More Airlines Raise Fares on Fuel Costs

American Airlines and JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) raised ticket prices in various markets late on Thursday, following similar decisions by Delta, United and Continental Airlines Thursday, as airlines seek to recoup some of their increased costs from record fuel prices.

No. 1 U.S. airline American, owned by AMR Corp. (AMR), hiked fares on a range of domestic routes, with increases mostly ranging from $5 to $10 each way, spokesman Tim Smith said Friday.

Discount carrier JetBlue raised fares by $5 on flights to and from Florida and on some transcontinental flights, spokeswoman Jenny Dervin said.

The fare hikes follow similar moves by rivals including Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL), UAL Corp.'s United Airlines (UAL) and Continental Airlines Inc. (CAL).

United said its fare increase of $2 to $5 affected each one-way leg of a trip. Delta said its increase of $10 also applied to each leg of a trip except in markets where it faced low-cost competition, where the fare would rise by $3 to $5 per leg.

Continental said Thursday it was matching Delta's fare hike. It was not immediately clear when Continental's increase would go into effect. But United and Delta said their increases were effective immediately.

The airline industry has been hurt by soaring fuel prices and low-cost competition. Crude oil futures notched a record high of $66 a barrel Thursday.

"Given current crude prices and generally consistent participation amongst legacy names, we see no reason for last night's (fare hike) initiative to fail," said J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker in a research note.

The higher ticket prices did little to help the beleaguered industry's shares, as oil prices raced to record highs above $66 a barrel on Friday. Fuel has overtaken labor as the highest cost for many of the airlines, and analysts say some carriers could be driven into bankruptcy.

Delta shares were down 8 cents, or 4.5 percent, at $1.71, Continental was down 31 cents, or 2.1 percent, at $14.30, and AMR was down 18 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $13.22, all on the New York Stock Exchange (search). On Nasdaq, JetBlue was off 4 cents to $18.98.