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Four Airlines Announce Christmas Sale

December 11, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ Four of the nation’s biggest airlines announced Christmas holiday discounts of up to 80 percent on most domestic routes Tuesday, although the fares would be slightly less of a bargain than the industry’s highly publicized Thanksgiving sales.

American Airlines and United Airlines offered special fares from Christmas Day, Dec. 25, until midnight Dec. 27, for nonrefundable, roundtrip tickets purchased by Dec. 23.

Trans World Airlines matched the offer and extended it to the New Year holidays, Jan. 1-3, but said passengers traveling during that period must buy tickets by Dec. 30.

One-way prices will be $49 for routes up to 500 miles in length, $69 for 501-1,500-mile routes and $99 for routes exceeding 1,500 miles, the airlines said.

Continental announced it would match the special fares on routes where its regular fare was higher than the special Christmas fares. Spokesman Mike Cinelli contended Continental’s regular fares already were lower or equal to the special fares offered by the other three airlines, and only would have to be lowered for a few of Continental’s routes.

American was first to offer the Thanksgiving sale, which featured discounts of up to 85 percent for 21/2 days.

Asked why the discount was reduced for the Christmas holiday, Michael W. Gunn, senior vice-president for passenger marketing, told a telephone news conference: ″With the three full days of travel, we feel it’s logical to move the price up slightly.″

United spokesman Charles Novak said in a telephone query that United originally had not intended to offer a Christmas sale, but reversed the decision because other carriers were discounting holiday tickets.

Delta, Eastern, People Express and Piedmont announced earlier that they would apply discounts to the Christmas period.

The sales are designed to lure impulse travelers who otherwise would not fly over the holidays, when traffic usually is light. The airlines are hoping to fill hundreds of thousands of empty seats, making up in volume what they lose in cheaper tickets.

Several carriers reported last week that the Thanksgiving sale did not boost ridership as much as they had hoped, but still described the discounting as a success.

American said it filled 69 percent of its seats during the discount days, short of its 80 percent target but greater than the 40 percent occupancy it normally would have had during the period.

″There is no question that the Thanksgiving sale was a huge winner,″ Gunn said. Asked if the carrier would offer the same discounts for the New Year’s holiday, he said, ″On New Year’s you’re on your own.″

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