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American Slices Air Fares; Other Carriers Quickly Match the Cuts


American Airlines sparked another air fare war Monday by slashing prices on its discount coach seats by up to 40% for travel during much of the remainder of 1994.

United Airlines and Continental Airlines immediately matched the cuts on routes where they compete with American, and other airlines were expected to follow.

American said the special fares will apply to routes throughout the mainland United States, Hawaii, Canada, the Caribbean and on selected flights to Mexico. The cuts also apply to nine of American's destinations in Europe.

The new fares go on sale today and will be available only through Aug. 2. The amount of the discount will depend on the destination and whether the customer flies during peak or off-peak periods, such as in the middle of the week.

American, the primary unit of AMR Corp., said the special prices are aimed at boosting sales during the late summer and fall, which are traditionally slower travel periods.

Indeed, the price cut did not surprise some travel experts. "Just as the leaves fall in the autumn, so do the fares," said Jim M. Roberts, president of Uniglobe Regency Travel in Rancho Cucamonga.

The fact that consumers are always on the lookout for lower fares probably also prompted American and the others to cut prices, Roberts said.

American said its new fares will be offered for travel in the mainland United States and Hawaii between Aug. 15 and Dec. 14 and for trips to Canada between Aug. 24 and Dec. 14.

The lower prices are also good for flights to the Caribbean and Mexico between Sept. 7 and Dec. 14 and apply to European destinations between Nov. 1 and Dec. 14, American said.

The special fares do not apply during the Thanksgiving travel period, American said.

American's new discounts include a round-trip excursion flight between Los Angeles and New York for $388, 40% less than for the same ticket that required a two-week advance purchase. The excursion round-trip fare from Los Angeles to Hawaii will be $424, down from $600.

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