United Airlines said today it boosted its ticket prices by as much as much as $50 round-trip, raising the stakes in the airline industry's...
NEW YORK — United Airlines said today it boosted its ticket prices by as much as much as $50 round-trip, raising the stakes in the airline industry’s battle against rapidly rising fuel costs.
The broad-based domestic increases, which went into effect late Thursday, are based on the length of the flight, meaning that trips of under 500 miles will cost travelers $4 to $10 more round-trip, spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said. Journeys of more than 1,500 miles are now $12 to $50 more expensive than before the increase, she added.
The move comes just a week after United raised its domestic fuel surcharge by an additional $6 to $10 per round trip, effectively raising fares. United’s fuel surcharge now stands at $50 round-trip in markets where the airline does not compete against low-cost carriers, Urbanski said.
“Fuel is our highest expense. The cost of it clearly continues to rise,” Urbanski said. “We must be able to pass along these costs just like other businesses do.”
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As the price of oil has risen, carriers have tried to push more of their fuel costs onto consumers. Some of those increases have stuck, but stiff competition from low-cost airlines such as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue means many others have been rolled back after competing airlines failed to follow suit.
Delta Air Lines has taken no action at this time, spokeswoman Chris Kelly said today.
United’s latest move is unusual for its size. Most recent fare increases have been limited to about $10 round-trip.
“United has thrown down the gauntlet for this particular increase — a change of this magnitude across such a wide range (of) cities, with different increase amounts … and distance is a massive undertaking,” Rick Seaney, chief executive of airline ticket pricing Web site FareCompare.com, said in an e-mail.
Associated Press business reporter Harry R. Weber in Atlanta contributed to this story.