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U.S. airline fares fall 14 percent

March 8, 2009 at 9:02 PM

HOUSTON, March 8 (UPI) -- U.S. airlines are cutting some fares to help attract passengers amid the nation's economic downturn, analysts said.

Analysts say fares have dropped significantly, but it's anyone's guess as to how long the discounts will last, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.

"This may be one of our last hurrahs," said Tom Parsons of BestFares.com. "I have never seen airfares drop like this from one year to the next."

Parsons noted that a Houston-to-Honolulu round-trip ticket, hypothetically set for the second week of July, would have cost $778 a year ago and $928 last June, but just $438 last week.

Ticket prices to European destinations, including London, Paris and Rome are down about 35 percent from peak levels, the newspaper said.

Domestic fares have dropped about 14 percent compared to this time last year, said Bob Harrell of Harrell Associates, which tracks airline ticket prices.

"The fares in hubs like Houston tend to hold up better because it is a fortress hub," Harrell said. "But you have got weakness in the economy, and they are trying to fill up seats."

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