Major U.S. airlines on Tuesday
followed the lead of Trans World Airlines Inc. and set lower
fares for winter and spring travel as the carriers looked to
fill seats in anticipation of a post-holiday lull.
TWA, the 8th-largest U.S. airline, took the lead by posting
a sale Monday and was quickly followed by Continental Airlines ,
the 5th-largest carrier. United Airlines, the world's biggest
airline, and US Airways, the No. 6 U.S. carrier, weighed in
Northwest Airlines Corp., the No. 4 U.S. airline, told
Reuters it would also lower fares. A spokesman for AMR Corp.'s
American Airlines, the No. 2 world airline, told Reuters it
would match United's fare sales.
Michael Stellwag, an airline analyst at Warburg Dillon Read,
said a fare sale at this time was not unusual.
"Between New Year's and spring break, you really get a lull
in passenger traffic," he said.
United is lowering fares by up to 30 percent below standard
21-day advance-purchase fares for both domestic and
international flights, a spokesman told Reuters.
Representatives of TWA, which began the round of fare cuts,
were not immediately able to give a range of the cuts. But an
industry source, who asked not to be identified, said TWA's cuts
ranged up to 42 percent, meaning United appeared not to match
the full range of cuts by the much smaller TWA.
Delta Air Lines Inc., the No. 3 U.S. carrier, was not
immediately available to comment.
The airlines lowered fares for travel from roughly
mid-January to mid-May, requiring purchase by Jan. 14 and at
least 14 days ahead of the departure date.
The greatest price reductions are available for travel
through roughly mid-January. The United and US Airways sales
also extend for travel through May.
UAL Corp.'s United added an incentive for customers to book
tickets on its Web site (http:/www.ual.com), offering up to 5
percent off and 1,000 bonus miles. First-time online customers
will receive an additional 3,000 bonus miles, showing how
carriers are ratcheting up their strategies for selling tickets
US Airways also offered 5 percent off its own domestic and
international sale prices for buyers using its Web site