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Tuesday, September 12, 2000


United cutting fares
up to 55%

Staff and wire reports

CHICAGO -- United Airlines, the world's largest air carrier, said today it will cut some fares by as much as 55 percent into December to woo back customers driven away by massive flight delays and cancellations this summer.

Fares between Honolulu and some mainland cities are cheaper than even the discounted deals requiring the purchase of tickets 21 days in advance.

The Honolulu-Seattle fare, for instance, was cut to $498 in today's sale, compared with a 21-day, advance-purchase fare of $595 last week. The sale fare also has fewer restrictions.

The unit of UAL Corp. said many of its domestic round-trip flights through Dec. 14 are now priced, on average, 45 to 55 percent below the structured fare, the typical fare that requires the 21-day advance purchase and a Saturday night stay.

Rates for longer distance flights, which include international travel, were cut by 15 to 25 percent. The sale fares come with no blackout dates and only a seven-day advance purchase is required, shorter than the usual 14-day advance purchase.

Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 22.

For Honolulu-mainland travel, some 21-day advance purchase fares are cheaper than the sale prices announced today.

Other airlines including Continental, American and TWA said they matched United's sale.

"Basically our loads are down in the wake of our operational difficulty this summer. We are launching this fare sale to help stimulate demand to bring back customers," said United spokeswoman Chris Nardella.

United's August load factor, representing the number of seats filled with paying passengers, had fallen 1.9 points to 75 percent.

The airline, which had been negotiating a labor contract with its pilots union, was plagued by thousands of flight delays and cancellations this summer due to both pilots' refusal to work overtime and bad weather.

Although United reached a tentative agreement with its pilots in late August, ahead of deadline, United had steadily lost customers as a result of the dispute.

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