U.S. Airlines Attempt First Fare Increase Of 2012 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

U.S. Airlines Attempt First Fare Increase Of 2012

MSNBC.COM - U.S. airlines have hiked ticket prices for the first time in the new year. Delta Air Lines filed a domestic price increase of $20 roundtrip on longer-haul routes this week, a move that major U.S. rivals have started matching, FareCompare.com said on Thursday.

Southwest/AirTran and Frontier quickly matched the fare increase Wednesday night, and American, United/Continental and US Airways raised ticket prices on Thursday.

Airlines attempted to raise fares 22 times in 2011, but only nine were successful. Several fare hikes were rolled back after other airlines failed to match price increases.

A Delta spokesman confirmed the report of the carrier's price increase. FareCompare.com called the move the first domestic airfare increase attempt for 2012.

"I think airlines will continue to try to hike domestic airfares every couple of weeks with limited success," Rick Seaney, CEO for FareCompare.com, told msnbc.com "Carriers have found it difficult to raise prices the past few months amidst higher fuel prices as they must fill empty middle seats with consumers who push back at the slightest increase."

The fare hike comes just weeks before new rules from the U.S. Department of Transportation go into effect. Come Jan. 26, airlines will be required to include taxes and mandatory fees in their advertised fares. That new transparency could add 20 percent or more to the advertised price of an airline ticket.

Airlines have boosted fares and are looking for new revenue sources as higher oil prices raise costs and threaten profitability.

"Any time in this environment that Southwest Airlines is raising fares, it's all about fuel prices," said airline spokesman Brad Hawkins.

Oil prices initially rose on Thursday as the euro rallied and a Nigerian union threatened to shut down output, but they later eased on a report that the European Union could delay a ban on Iranian exports by six months. U.S. February crude oil was down 1.6 percent at $99.26 a barrel after earlier reaching above $102

U.S. carriers have also raised ticket prices on flights to Europe in the wake of a disputed European law requiring airlines to pay for aircraft emissions.

American Airlines, United Continental Holdings and US Airways said last week they matched a $3 surcharge each way unveiled by Delta on fares purchased in the United States for flights between the United States and Europe. That move would help offset the cost of the European Union carbon emissions law that took effect this month.

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