Southwest Cuts Web Fares

CHICAGO-In the battle with Orbitz for low price supremacy, Southwest Airlines cut Web fares by as much as 66% for 14-day advanced purchases.

The sale comes after Southwest announced in early July that it would no longer file its fare data with the Airline Tariff Publishing Co. Orbitz had been pulling Southwest’s published fares from ATPCO because the carrier refused to supply fare information-particularly Internet specials-directly to the Web site, which is owned by American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United airlines.

Southwest subsequently sued Orbitz charging the Web site, claiming “to have the most low fares to planet earth,” misrepresented the carrier’s services and prices. The no-frills carrier this month broke two TV ads reinforcing its claim that travelers can find the lowest price by booking on

The carrier books more than a third of ticket sales through the Web-transactions that cost about $1 per booking vs. more than $10 for tickets sold via travel agents using computer reservation systems. Southwest fare and flight information also is distributed by Sabre. Pulling itself off of ATPCO could give the carrier a “stealth” advantage because competitors will not be instantly aware of flight and fare changes, said Holly Hegeman, an independent industry analyst.