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US Airlines Increase Domestic Long-Haul Fares

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US airlines are ringing in the new year with higher ticket prices after Delta Air Lines increased the price of a domestic roundtrip by USD$20 on longer-haul routes this week, a move that major US rivals matched on Thursday.

After a Delta spokesman said they had issued the fare increase, United Continental, American Airlines and US Airways all matched it.

Fare tracker FareCompare said Southwest Airlines was also matching. Southwest did not return a request for comment.

FareCompare called the move the first domestic airfare increase attempt for 2012.

Airlines have boosted fares and are looking for new revenue sources as higher oil prices raise costs and threaten profitability.

Oil prices initially rose on Thursday as the euro rallied and a Nigerian union threatened to shut down output, but they later eased on a report that the European Union could delay a ban on Iranian exports by six months. US February crude oil was down 2 percent to USD$98.86 a barrel after earlier reaching above USD$102.

American Airlines, United Continental and US Airways said last week they matched a USD$3 surcharge each way unveiled by Delta on fares purchased in the United States for flights between the US and Europe. That move would help offset the cost of the European Union carbon emissions law that took effect this month.

(Reuters)