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Delta slashes fares to Europe up to 35% other airlines pledge cuts


The bruising domestic air-fare war might be over, but the skirmishes continue over the Atlantic and the Caribbean.

Yesterday, Delta Air Lines announced that it would discount tourist fares for the fall and winter to 33 European cities and Israel. The sale, with savings that average 25 percent to 35 percent, was immediately matched by Continental Airlines. United Airlines and American Airlines pledged they would be competitive with Delta's special, and Northwest said it was studying Delta's announcement.

American, apparently wanting to end the day as a leader rather than a follower, said that it would discount it lowest fares to the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Bermuda this fall by up to 30 percent, expanding a domestic promotion it introduced last Friday.

Again, some competitors matched the discounts, and others said they were studying them.

The Delta fares, if approved by government regulators, would be available from Aug. 5 through Sept. 4 for trips from Oct. 1 to March 31. The non-refundable fares require a stay of seven to 30 days. The discounts cannot be used for flights to Europe or Israel that depart in the week before Christmas Eve or return in the week after New Year's Day.

American's tickets to the Caribbean must be bought by Aug. 31 for travel from Sept. 14 through Dec. 14.

The moves by American and Delta are neither unusual nor entirely unexpected. Last November, Delta nearly tripled the number of European cities it serves when it acquired routes from Pan American World Airways, and it is eager to build its identity as a foreign carrier.

The fall and winter are typically slower seasons for the industry, which is clamoring for ways to bounce back from heavy losses in the second quarter, when Delta posted a loss of $180.2 million.

American Airlines also regularly offers specials on flights to the Caribbean.

The specials, however, continue the dizzying pace of sales trumpeted by the leading airlines recently, including a brief sale started Friday by Continental that ended yesterday. Last week, lTC Delta offered a 30 percent discount for domestic flights from mid-September to mid-December, a move matched by a few rivals. Delta also said it would raise its fares by 5 percent when the sale ends Aug. 31.

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