Airfares up 13% as summer season demand rising

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Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines and other U.S.

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Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines and other U.S. carriers are charging 13 percent more for the peak summer season as rising demand and fewer seats restore industry pricing power, data show.

The average round-trip fare jumped to $471 from $415 a year earlier, according to, an online travel agency based in Southlake, Texas. The total reflects tickets for domestic and international flights.

Stronger summer bookings add to the evidence of airlines’ recovery from the recession-driven travel slump that forced them to park more than 500 jets over the past two years. Average fares fell 11 percent a year earlier. The summer vacation season is traditionally the most profitable for airlines.

“There’s a pent-up demand after people trimmed vacations or cut back on spending in 2009,” Senior Editor Genevieve Shaw Brown said today in an interview. “People have more confidence about spending on their vacations this year.”

A Travelocity survey found 49 percent of 2,000 customers plan more travel this year, Shaw Brown said. Travelocity defines the summer season as the Thursday before the May 31 Memorial Day holiday through the Tuesday after Labor Day in September.

Among the top summer destinations, Orlando, Florida, is the cheapest with fares averaging $259, unchanged from last year, data show. Las Vegas fares rose the most with a 13 percent jump to $333, followed by the Washington area with a 12 percent increase to $301.

The Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index of 12 carriers has surged 19 percent this year, outpacing the 6.5 percent advance for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The airlines index slid 1.6 percent today as crude oil reached the highest level in 17 months.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.