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U.S. airfares at record high

October 30, 2008|the associated press

DALLAS — Average U.S. airfares jumped 8.1% in the second quarter to their highest level since the government started keeping track 13 years ago.

The Transportation Department said Wednesday that the average domestic itinerary fare in the second quarter rose to $352, breaking the record of $348 set in 2001.

Airlines raised fees and fuel surcharges this year as they tried to offset high costs for fuel, which peaked at record levels in the first week of July -- just after the second quarter ended. Even with the increases, however, most major U.S. airlines lost money in the quarter.

In the last two months, many airlines have cut back on flights, which could push fares even higher.

The Transportation Department based its figures on a sample of itineraries from April through June, excluding "abnormally high" fares.

The increase of 8.1% from the second quarter of 2007 was the biggest year-to-year increase since early 2006.

Average fares rose 4.6% from the first three months of the year, but fares typically rise in the second quarter because of springtime demand. The last exception to this was in 2004.

Since hitting bottom at $307 in early 2005, average fares have risen 14.7%, and they've risen nearly 45% since 1995, according to the department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

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