From: Reuters
Published May 24, 2008 08:00 AM

Airlines increase U.S. round-trip fares by up to $60

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three major U.S. airlines have raised round-trip fares in the United States by up to $60 as they struggle with record oil prices, which have roughly doubled in the past year.

A spokeswoman for United Airlines, owned by UAL Corp,, said round-trip fares would rise between $10 and $60 to offset rising fuel costs.

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A spokeswoman for Delta Air Lines Inc and a spokesman for AMR Corp's American Airlines said their companies had matched United's fare hikes of up to $60 round-trip.

"We are bleeding here," said American Airlines spokesman Ned Raynolds. "It's a survival battle at this point. We are the only major carrier never to have been in bankruptcy and we want to keep it that way."

AMR Corp Chief Executive Gerard Arpey said on Wednesday the airline industry as it was presently constituted could not withstand oil prices at $125 a barrel.

Crude oil futures were trading over $131 on Friday.

Seven small airlines have filed for bankruptcy or stopped operating in the past five months and, if oil prices stay at current levels or go higher, analysts say some major airlines also face the prospect of bankruptcy.

"The bottom line is they have to pass on the cost of fuel to consumers," said Rick Seaney, CEO of airline ticket research site FareCompare.com.

Tom Parsons, chief executive of Bestfares.com, said if the most recent air fare hike is matched by the other major carriers, it would be the 12th successful increase out of 17 attempts since December 20. last year.

(Editing by Richard Chang, Leslie Gevirtz)

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