Originally created 11/17/06

Carrier reduces its fares



Officials from Augusta Regional Airport announced Thursday that US Airways would reduce its walk-up fares by as much as 57 percent, based on one-way purchases.

Advance purchase tickets for round-trip travel will see a 15 percent reduction. These could affect 30 markets, including Miami; New Orleans; Orlando, Fla.; and Nashville, Tenn.

Diane Johnston, the airport's marketing director, said she has been in discussions with U.S. Airways since it merged with America West last year.

"It was a long drawn-out process, but they finally came back to us and said, 'We think you're right for this,'" Ms. Johnston said.

Not long after the announcement, it appeared Delta had responded by matching many of its prices to the reduced-priced US Airways tickets, although a recent December promotion has reduced many of its fares. Calls to the carrier Thursday were not returned.

Ms. Johnston said with the added pressure of the US Airways fare reduction, officials expected Delta to begin to reduce its fares, too - albeit with little fanfare. She said it might also help improve the reliability of the Delta connector, Atlantic Southeast Airlines.

A government report ranked ASA last in on-time performance and baggage-handling out of the 20 airlines it tracked in the last four monthly reports.

Augusta Aviation Commission Chairman Cedric Johnson announced the price reductions. Tom Trenga, the vice president for revenue management at US Airways, was not able to attend because of his company's effort to acquire Delta Air Lines.

Mr. Johnson stressed that the price plan is an experiment and will not continue if traffic doesn't increase at the airport.

"What I hope the community will understand is when people look out for you, you need to look out for them," he said.

So far, US Airways has cut prices in more than 300 markets this year, according to a company news release. Stephanie Freeman, the marketing director for Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., said the airline cut fares in their area in February. Since then, US Airways has increased the number of passengers on its planes out of Greensboro, but Ms. Freeman said the airport's numbers have not increased - possibly because regular passengers switched from Delta to US Airways.

"Our passengers are down a bit, but their passengers are going up," she said.

The reductions will affect both business and leisure fares. A walk-up business flight to Chicago's O'Hare Airport will be reduced from $667 in early October to $374, according to airport statistics. A leisure fare to Minneapolis will drop from $230 to $149.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

CARRIERS BATTLE OVER FARES


Delta Air Lines has matched many of US Airways' reduced fares. Ticket prices are for round-trip tickets from Dec. 8 to Dec. 11, before taxes and fees.

Delta US Airways
Detroit $259 $259
Chicago $277 $289
Los Angeles $349 $349
Dallas/Fort Worth $279 $279
Orlando, Fla. $289 $289
Nashville, Tenn. $318 $318

Source: www.orbitz.com



WHAT'S THE CATCH?


- The reduction in walk-up fares is based on one-way purchases, while the advanced-purchase reduction requires a 21-day advanced purchase and one-night minimum stay, according to a US Airways news release.


- The prices do not include taxes, passenger facility charges and security fees.


- Tickets that are purchased through the airline's telephone service cost $5 more, and those purchased at the airport or city ticket offices cost $10 more.

Source: US Airways