Airlines launched another round of fare discounts Friday, but some Americans will wind up paying more for plane tickets this summer than last year.
A series of quiet fare hikes will keep some ticket prices close to or above year-ago levels as carriers try to stem the flood of losses that has swept the industry since 1990.
Some carriers have also tightened restrictions on the available cheap seats.
Northwest Airlines Corp. set off the latest round of fare cuts with as much as 50 percent off domestic tickets bought by April 7 for travel between May 1 and September 14.
Delta Air Lines Inc., United Airlines, USAir Group Inc., Trans World Airlines Inc. and other carriers immediately matched the new fares on comeptitive routes. AMR Corp., parent of American Airlines Inc., extended the purchase deadline to April 10 and spread the discounts through its entire domestic system.
As with most recent fare actions, the Northwest sale is extremely restricted. The deepest discounts are for travel on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday afteroon.
Major carriers, which do not publicize the fare hikes, have repeatedly raised ticket prices on key routes in the past few months. Even Southwest Airlines Co., known for its no-frills flights and cheap tickets, has raised fares on some routes.