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Continental Competitors Join With Higher Fares

April 14, 1989

HOUSTON (AP) _ Continental Airlines’ decision to raise some of its fares at the start of the busy summer tourist season prompted several of its competitors Friday to match the increases.

Braniff Airways said it would go along with Continental’s increases, announced Thursday, in markets where the two carriers compete. TWA and America West said they also would go along with the higher fares, effective in late May.

United, Delta, USAir and Southwest airlines said they had not yet decided whether to join in the price increases while American Airlines said it had no immediate plans to concur.

Braniff spokesman Rick Boubelik said the increases, which apply to so- called max saver fares, affect about 85 percent of the Dallas-based airline’s schedule.

Cities where Braniff would hold the line on fares primarily would be in the Midwest - like Topeka and Salinas, Kan., on flights both east and west, he said.

″We do pricing for smaller commuter markets and some of those markets have already gotten high and we don’t think they can take another hike,″ he said.

The Braniff increases will affect advance-purchase tickets, will range from $20 to $80 and will begin with those placing reservations on May 28.

″We’ll match them,″ TWA spokesman Bob Blattner said. ″But we won’t touch business fares.″

Continental said Thursday its increases ranged to $20 each way, depending on the market. The boosts would not apply to first class and full-fare coach tickets.

Continental spokesman Ned Walker said the increases were made in anticipation of the prime summer tourist season.

As an example of the new price plan for tickets bought after May 26, a Continental round-trip flight from Newark to Los Angeles will increase from $298 off-peak and $398 peak to $358 off-peak and $438 peak.

″Summer is the busiest time and this modest increase reflects that demand,″ Walker said.

However, one airline spokesman, speaking on the condition he would not be identified, said while fares often increase during the summer due to greater demand, the Continental increase was not ″modest″ but was the largest he’d seen in at least seven years. He speculated it was related to the troubles of sister carrier Eastern.

Eastern, crippled for a month by a strike, and Continental both are owned by Houston-based Texas Air Corp.

″Continental has tried to place itself as a pricing leader but it’s usually in the other direction,″ the spokesman, at a competing carrier, said. ″Now they’re trying to recoup some of those low fares.″

At American Airlines, spokesman Jim Brown said the carrier had no plans to immediately follow its competition.

″We are still studying the proposal and it’s likely we will not make a decision for several days,″ Brown said.

″We have not made any decision,″ Delta spokeswoman Jackie Tate said. ″We’re just analyzing what happened.″

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