A revamped "MaxSaver" program announced by Continental Airlines is expected to boost the majority of the airline's remaining cut-rate fares and could lead to similar hikes throughout the industry.
Continental said Tuesday that its MaxSaver fares - which are used by most vacation travelers - would be based on the length of a flight under the new formula.Competition on individual routes, not mileage, had determined MaxSaver rates in the past. MaxSaver tickets must be purchased seven to 14 days in advance and require a Saturday night stay.
The change came just days after Continental initiated an industry move to drop discounts aimed at business travelers.
"You will see some MaxSavers going up and some MaxSavers going down," Walker said. "We are returning air fares to a more rational level."
He said fares for longer flights generally would be raised somewhat while those for shorter hauls mostly would be reduced.
For example, between Newark and Los Angeles, the current $159 one-way off-peak fare would be increased to $179; the current $184 peak fare would be increased to $199. But between Phoenix and Tampa, Fla., the off-peak fare of $174 would be reduced to $159, the $204 peak reduced to $179.
Off-peak includes all day Saturday, Sunday morning and some designated weekday flights.