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Amid Ebola scare, airlines approve fare hike

Delta Air Lines
Travelers on Delta Air Lines wait for flights in Detroit in 2012. Delta initiated a fare hike last week that was matched by its biggest competitors.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

The nation’s largest airlines have approved a $4 round-trip fare hike, despite anxiety over Ebola  and higher travel prices for the upcoming holiday season.

The hike may signal that the airline industry believes demand for air travel is so strong that it won’t be discouraged by an Ebola scare or a slight rate increase, according to Rick Seaney, founder of the fare monitoring site Farecompare.com.

Frontier Airlines announced last week that it is helping to contact more than 1,000 passengers who flew on the same plane with an Ebola-stricken nurse or flew on the plane after she disembarked.

The fare hike, the first successful across-the-board increase in six months, was initiated Thursday by Delta Air Lines, with Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, US Airways and United Airlines matching the hike Friday.

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The bump in airfares also comes as the airline industry is reporting record profits, thanks to growing travel demand and sliding fuel costs.

Jet fuel prices in North America are down 15.5% to $2.46 a gallon as of Friday, compared with the same time last year, according to the International Air Transport Assn., the trade group for the world’s airlines.

Meanwhile, the cost to fly this holiday season is expected to rise over last year.

Domestic fares for flights around the Thanksgiving weekend are up 17%, averaging $467, compared with $400 in 2013, according to a report by Expedia, one of the world’s largest travel sites.

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Flights around the Christmas holiday are up only 2%, to an average of $493, compared with $482 in 2013, according to Expedia.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.


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