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Friday, June 16, 2006 - Page updated at 08:46 AM

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Some airlines raise fares in first class and coach

The Associated Press

ATLANTA — Last-minute business travelers and some first-class fliers will pay more this summer for domestic tickets on some of the major airlines.

Some fares at the major airlines have been creeping up in recent months largely because of persistently high fuel prices.

Delta Air Lines, the nation's third-largest carrier, has raised one-way domestic fares on unrestricted first-class and walk-up coach tickets by $50, spokeswoman Chris Kelly said Thursday. Other first-class tickets were not affected.

Wednesday's move by Delta was quickly matched by United Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines and US Airways, according to spokesmen at the five carriers.

At Delta, the airline also has raised its most expensive one-way fares on domestic coach and first-class tickets to $699 and $799, respectively. Kelly stressed that the prices are not a cap, though she wouldn't say if that means they could go even higher.

"In a dynamic fuel environment, we must be flexible and be able to respond to increasing costs while maintaining a competitive cost structure," Kelly said.

The airline's most expensive one-way domestic and first-class fares have now increased $200 since Delta announced its SimpliFares program in January 2005. A key element of the program was caps on those two classes of fares at $499 and $599, respectively. Kelly said other elements of the program, including a simpler fare structure, cheaper ticket change fees and fewer restrictions, have not changed.

She said the fares being increased at Delta represent less than 5 percent of its domestic tickets.

Shares of United rose $2.61, or 9.4 percent, to $30.42. American rose $1.49 to $23.31. US Airways rose $2.99 to $45.48. Shares of Continental Airlines rose $1.33 to $24.95.

Delta and Northwest are operating under bankruptcy protection, and their shares are traded over the counter.

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