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Fri, Jan 04, 2008

Airlines Raise Fares As Oil Hits $100 Per Barrel

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In a move unlikely to surprise many, airlines around the globe raised fares this week... in an attempt to keep pace with oil prices that surged over $100 per barrel on the futures market.

The Associated Press reports many US domestic roundtrip fares bumped up $10 to $20 late Thursday. United Airlines led the charge, with Delta right behind. Air Canada hiked ticket prices two percent between the US and Canada, with low-cost carriers AirTran and Midwest also raising fuel surcharges.

Carriers said the increases are due to higher fuel costs... also the culprit behind some two dozen attempted fare hikes in 2007 alone. "We all are facing ever increasing fuel costs and trying to keep up," said AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver.

Worst of all, most believe this likely isn't the highest prices will go.

"If oil stays at $100 a barrel, or if it creeps up even higher, I don't see how this is going to stop," said FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney. "Airlines are going to be scrapping to keep their heads above water."

"We all are facing ever increasing fuel costs and trying to keep up," said AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver.

Just because airlines increased fares across-the-board, doesn't mean all passengers will be affected equally. Competition from low-cost carriers may prevent the latest increase from "sticking" in such markets as Orlando or Washington, DC... while travelers flying from smaller airports, with less competition, may end up paying the most.

Analyst Seaney advises passengers who want deals, had best buy their tickets now.

"The bottom line for consumers is this: They'd better be shopping earlier than they used to because there's not going to be any last minute deals left," Seaney said. "The airlines know exactly when travelers want to travel, and they're going to charge a premium for that."

FMI: www.united.com, www.delta.com, www.airtran.com, www.aircanada.com, www.midwestairlines.com

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