United, Delta, American raise round-trip fares in some markets

The Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Citing high fuel prices, United Airlines said Friday it has increased fares by $6 per round trip on flights to some cities also served by lower-cost carriers.

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines matched the move.

United, a unit of UAL Corp., said the increase took effect Thursday night and applies to most routes where it competes against discount carriers, such as Chicago to Dallas and Atlanta, and Denver to San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

The exceptions are routes where the nation's No. 2 carrier competes head-to-head with Southwest Airlines Co.

Southwest did no go along with the move. "We are not going to be involved in that fare increase at all," spokesman Ed Stewart said.

Still, Credit Suisse airline analyst Daniel McKenzie said in a note that the move by United, which follows an unsuccessful attempt last week by American Airlines parent AMR Corp. and Delta Air Lines Inc. to start an industrywide fare increase, is "a sign that underlying demand trends remain strong."

Northwest Airlines Corp. was studying United's price increase, spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said. Continental Airlines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. also both said they had not made an immediate decision to match.

Airlines have raised fares many times in the past two years, partly to cover higher fuel costs.