Airlines rolling back latest fare hike

Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — The latest attempt by U.S. airlines to raise fares collapsed on Thursday, and airlines began rolling back increases of up to $10 on a roundtrip ticket.

Delta, United and Continental raised their fares on Monday, just days after hiking prices by $4 to $10 per round trip.

This time, however, they were stymied when low-cost carriers including Southwest Airlines Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp. declined to match the increases.

Airlines resist having even slightly higher fares than competitors because their flights get listed lower in online searches when customers search by price.

By Thursday, all the major airlines were rolling back the latest increase, according to Rick Seaney, CEO of travel website FareCompare.com.

United Continental Holdings Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. confirmed that they had dropped the price hikes. American is a unit of AMR Corp.

Seaney attributed the collapse to a chaotic mix of different airlines imposing different rules for fare increases and minimum prices, along with the difficulty of raising prices during a typically slow season for travel.

Airlines have attempted about 20 broad price increases this year, and about half have succeeded, according to experts who track fares. That's made travel for the holidays more expensive than a year ago.

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