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AMR’s Seventh 2011 Fare Rise Matches Last Two-Year Total

American Airlines boosted domestic round-trip fares by $10 for the seventh broad increase of 2011. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg
American Airlines boosted domestic round-trip fares by $10 for the seventh broad increase of 2011. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

March 10 (Bloomberg) -- American Airlines boosted domestic round-trip fares by $10 for the seventh broad increase of 2011, matching the total among major carriers in the past two years combined, to blunt higher jet fuel costs.

Round-trip fares for Canada and Hawaii were raised $20, Tim Smith, a spokesman for Fort Worth, Texas-based American, said in an e-mail today.

Jet fuel, one of the industry’s biggest costs along with labor, soared 27 percent this year through yesterday. Major U.S. airlines raised fares four times last year and three times in 2009, putting them on pace to pass those totals in the first quarter of 2011, Rick Seaney, chief executive officer of Dallas-based FareCompare, said today in an e-mail.

“If history repeats itself, we should see weekly hike attempts of at least $10 round-trip through the end of April, as we did in 2008 where oil closed at $115 a barrel that month,” Seaney said.

Other airlines hadn’t matched the increase by a 1 p.m. New York time deadline to change published fares, Seaney said. If others fail to follow the increase, American may decide to rescind it to avoid a competitive disadvantage.

Delta Air Lines Inc. is monitoring the American fare increase, said Trebor Banstetter, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based carrier.

AMR Corp.’s American, Delta and United Continental Holdings Inc. have scaled back plans to expand seating capacity this year to help hold down spending for fuel.

Carriers also use fees for optional goods and services to boost revenue from sources other than tickets. American this week increased the cost to make a flight reservation by phone to $25 from $20, matching the amount charged by competitors. JetBlue Airways Corp. on March 2 raised the fee to check a second bag to $35 from $30, according to its website. The New York-based carrier doesn’t charge for a first checked bag.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at maryc.s@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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