American, Other Carriers Match Rate Boost

Major airlines nudged up fares for business and leisure travelers Friday, hoping to boost revenues as the summer travel season begins.

American Airlines raised many round-trip advance-purchase fares by $10 on short flights and $20 on longer routes, according to Terry Trippler, an analyst with Cheapseats.com.

The increase matched one initiated Thursday by Northwest Airlines, Trippler said. Continental Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines matched the higher fares as well.

Northwest also increased business fares by $50 each way, raising the $499 cap on one-way business fares for the first time since most airlines implemented it last year.

Continental and United matched that increase, Trippler said.

American had not decided Friday whether to follow suit, spokesman Tim Smith said.

The price increases come just days after a previous attempt to raise fares collapsed when Continental and Northwest failed to match it completely.

The airlines hope to capitalize on what is expected to be a busy summer.

Although demand has been strong in recent months, high fuel prices and low fares have offset the increased traffic.

Still, airline analyst Jamie Baker of J.P. Morgan Securities noted that fare increases alone won't be enough to solve the industry's woes.

It remained to be seen whether the latest price increase will survive the weekend.

Many of the routes where fares were raised face competition from discount carriers like Southwest, which so far have failed to match the higher prices.

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