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Despite Rising Fuel Costs, Southwest Helping Keep Fares Down at RDU

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RDU INTERNATIONAL — The airline that has helped keep the price of air travel down atRDU Internationalis doing it again.Southwest Airlinesrefused to give in to other airlines wanting to raise fares to cover rising fuel costs.

When Southwest and other low-cost carriers started flying in and out of RDU International, it drove fares down as much as 20 percent.

Fares out of RDU have stayed competitive even as airlines raise them everywhere else.

Now Southwest may be helping to keep fares low across the country.

WhenDeltaandContinentalannounced they would raise fares because of rising fuel costs, Southwest and other airlines refused. As a result, Delta and Continental have backed off, at least for the time being.

Analysts say a price hike could be inevitable. The cost of fuel has doubled, and even the most competitive airlines are paying the price.

"Jet fuel is typically priced as competitively as possible, but it all goes back to the refiners and what OPEC is trying to do as far as limiting the supply of crude oil, which in turn is passed onto us," says RDU spokesperson Mike Blanton.

Travelers are taking the latest situation in stride.

"As long as fares go back down when the fuel goes back down, I think it's OK," says Mark Ferrel.

"When they go up, they have to come down eventually, and I can understand why the airlines have to cover that expense," says Yvonne Meyer.

There is not much travelers can do, at least until the price of jet fuel comes back down.

Analysts say do not be surprised if the airlines try to raise fares again -- as early as this weekend.

Wednesday afternoon, WRAL called airlines serving RDU to find out who is offering the lowest fare to Los Angeles. Here is what we found:

Round trip from Raleigh to Los Angeles:(Seven-day advance purchase required)
  • Southwest: $298
  • Continental: $306
  • Northwest: $311
  • USAirways: $331
  • United: $371
  • Delta,TWA: $397
  • American Airlines: $398
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