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American hikes fares $20 roundtrip on a third of its routes

American Airlines raised fares by $20 roundtrip on a third of its routes late Friday, a farewatcher says.

The increase came after a two-week respite in which the airlines took a break from a string of industry-wide fare hikes. American also raised prices by $30-$60 roundtrip on "just under a quarter of its routes" a week ago, "with little matching activity" by major rivals United, Delta, Northwest, Continental, and US Airways, said Rick Seaney, of farecompare.com.

Seaney said he isn't categorizing American's two latest increases as a "full blown system-wide airfare hike attempt."

"But it is getting close and marks a definite departure from previous fare hike activity," he said in an email message. "It will be interesting to see if the other legacy airlines try to match this more sophisticated type of piecemeal hike movement in the coming weeks or revert back to the simpler blanket system-wide airfare increases that have dominated the past few years."

The airlines in recent months have ripped off a string of fare hikes, trying to cope with high fuel prices.

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