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Holiday airfares take off: Report
Newspaper says peak Thanksgiving week airfares up a sharp 15 percent over last year.
November 3, 2005: 7:30 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Sharply higher air fares could make it a little more challenging for commuters to get into the holiday spirit this year, according to a published report Thursday.

An article in USA Today, citing data from consulting firm Sabre Airline Solutions, says airfares for the peak Thanksgiving travel days are up 15 percent from last year.

September is typically when most Thanksgiving tickets are bought, the report said. The average round-trip ticket cost $376 this year versus $327 in 2004, the paper said.

A major reason for the increase is airlines trying to get out of their financial funk after being forced to cut the supply of available airline seats, the report said.

"There are fewer seats in the market, and the airlines are filling their planes," the paper quoted Sabre consultant Steven Hendrickson, as saying.

As a result, he says, airlines have greater power to limit the most-discounted rates.

At the same time, the run-up in gasoline prices may also be contributing to higher fares by generating more demand for air travel, the report said. Gas prices have topped $3 a gallon, turning road trippers into reluctant fliers, Cheryl Hudak, owner of Boardman, Ohio-based Travel Dimensions, told the paper.

This month, airlines have scheduled three percent fewer domestic seats versus last year, the report said, citing flight schedule data from OAG and Back Aviation Solutions.

As a result, the report said Delta, Northwest, Independence Air and others are trimming capacity by flying less often, dropping routes, using smaller planes and stopping service in some cities.

Hendrickson told the paper that he doesn't expect prices to drop as the holiday approaches.

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