American and America West airlines are among the carriers following Delta Air Lines lead in slashing some air fares, with the biggest discounts available on bookings through each carrier`s web sites.
Fees for bookings through GDS/CRS` can cost airlines an average of $12 per roundtrip ticket, although potential travellers without the Internet are eligible to take advantage of the savings through travel agents that offer special services through Delta`s Web site.
The action taken on Monday by the three major carriers is consistent with recent efforts to boost online ticketing.
``Since the early 1990s, the airlines have made a concerted effort to reduce distribution costs which currently account for roughly 15% of operating expenses,`` Susan Donofrio, a Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown analyst, said in a recent industry note.
By increasing sales over the Internet, Donofrio said, airline executives believe they can halve distribution costs as a percentage of revenues over the next few years.
Before Delta`s announcement on Monday, online discounts were typically in the range of 5% to 10%.
AP reports that industrywide discounts have been in place for 128 days so far this year, compared with just 73 days of discounts by this time last year.
The Delta sale is steeper than a similar price cut made last year by US Airways, which reduced its online fares by up to 15%.