Continental Rescinds Latest Fare Hike

Continental Airlines (CAL) Monday said it has rescinded the airfare increase it put in place last week in what was its latest effort to offset high jet fuel costs.

The Houston-based No. 5 U.S. airline has been one of the most aggressive carriers in trying to pass soaring fuel costs on to passengers in the form of higher ticket prices. But so far, most fuel surcharges have failed to stick.

Continental's latest move, put in place late last Thursday, was a $10 fare hike each way for flights up to 1,000 miles, and $20 each way for flights of more than 1,000 miles. It tried to push through a similar fare increase just three weeks ago which also failed.

Continental said in mid-May that soaring jet fuel costs would add an extra $700 million in operating expenses this year, contributing to a "significant" loss for 2004.

Chief Executive Gordon Bethune (search) said last week at the Reuters Air and Defense Summit in Washington that furloughs and wage concessions could be needed sometime this fall if jet fuel prices remain high. He also said he could not predict when the company would reach a new contract with its pilots, given the uncertainty surrounding oil prices.

Airfare expert Terry Trippler, president of, said he expected other carriers that had matched Continental's higher fares would also roll back the increases.