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Trendwatch: Fares Rise as Fuel Prices Climb

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With yet another round of base fare hikes on the books, and after hearing, again, that the hikes are meant to offset rising fuel costs, it’s safe to say we have an established trend on our hands. USA Today reports that United and Delta raised fares $10 and $20 round-trip, respectively, on Monday, the fourth fare hike in a month. Most of the industry matched those hikes.

In total, airlines have added roughly $35 to their base fares over the course of the four hikes, Farecompare CEO Rick Seaney tells USA Today.

And with fuel prices projected to continue rising, it seems this trend could continue.  American Airlines CEO Gerald Arpey told his employees “The most worrisome threat we see on the horizon right now is the price of fuel,” and estimated his airline may see a surge in fuel costs upwards of $1 billion, according to USA Today. Delta CEO Richard Anderson stated the obvious, saying his airline would need to “pass on these higher fuel costs to our customers.”

See what I’m getting at here?

For consumers, fuel prices may be the most important index to watch through the coming year. All signs point to higher prices, which means travelers can expect more fare hikes and, possibly (but hopefully not), an increase in fees. Not trying to be alarmist here, but the writing is on the wall—the trend is for increasingly expensive travel in 2011.

Readers, do you feel airfares on are on the rise? Have you noticed higher prices in your searches?

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