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Airfare hikes not easy for fliers (and carriers)

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Airlines: Dropping fuel costs, higher ticket prices

If you thought lower fuel prices would lead to lower airfares, think again.

It appears after all the recent consolidation, airlines have gained pricing power, at least somewhat.

U.S. airlines have raised domestic one-way fares by $2 on average since Thursday, marking the first industry-wide increase in half a year.

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However, just because airlines raised fares this week doesn't mean it will necessarily happen again next week, or even next month.

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On CNBC's "Closing Bell" Rick Seaney of FareCompare.com said, "When airlines lift their price by even $1, as people search for flights on the Internet, the higher priced flight ends up on page 30 of the results."

Therefore, fares that vary by only a dollar can have a big impact on business. In turn, the increase has to happen across the entire industry, almost uniformly, or it doesn't stick.

In fact, this most recent price increase was only the fifth successful fare hike this year, though airlines have tried to boost fares 20 times since January, according to Seaney's analysis.

And the ongoing attempts to raise fares also don't mean rock bottom airfares are a thing of the past.

"Delta is introducing a bare bones fare to try and win business from Spirit," added Michael Boyd of the Boyd Group. "That's something to watch."