ATLANTA (AP) _ Delta and Northwest announced a $20 surcharge on round-trip tickets Thursday, joining the nation’s other top airlines.
Continental this week imposed the fuel fee on travel beginning Feb. 1. United Airlines, the country’s biggest carrier, and No. 2 American Airlines followed suit Wednesday.
``We essentially are responding to the competitive conditions of the marketplace,″ Delta spokesman John Kennedy said Thursday. He said Delta’s surcharge was not strictly fuel-related.
The surcharge of $10 one-way and $20 round-trip applies to all domestic flights. It doesn’t apply to international flights.
Airline officials and Wall Street analysts said the surcharge was warranted. Continental said its jet fuel costs in the fourth quarter reached $259 million, 50 percent higher than in the same period a year before.
Increased fuel costs are a direct result of the highest oil prices in nearly a decade, spawned by foreign oil powers’ production cutbacks. The price of the benchmark U.S. crude oil this week flirted with the $30 a barrel mark, reaching the highest level since the Gulf War and more than double its level of about a year ago.
``When you have a cost double on a year-over-year basis, you have to cover it,″ said Candace Browning, an airlines analyst with Merrill Lynch.