Cut-price return fares, including Minneapolis to London for dollars 448 and Boston to Paris for dollars 398, were scheduled to end on New Year's Eve. But the 14-day advance purchase tickets will now be sold until mid-March for travel originating in the US during the first quarter.
A spokesman for American Airlines said yesterday that the carrier was studying the Northwest move in order to decide whether to cut its own fares for the first quarter, which is usually a slow travel season. American had matched the previous Northwest promotion, which is due to end on Thursday.
Northwest's US rivals had been hoping to see an end to fare wars after a disastrous 1992 that included a half-price promotion during the traditionally busy summer season.
In a recent report the Salomon Brothers brokerage commented that, judged in aggregate, the US airline industry is bankrupt, adding that 'if the industry were a savings and loan association the government would have seized it and liquidated it'.
Salomon said consumers were now addicted to low fares and were likely to postpone bookings in anticipation of fare wars.