A new airline squabble has broken out -- this time "Texas style" between two Dallas-based competitors.
Braniff International began it last week by announcing plans to institute a streamlined fare structure on Nov. 24, reducing the number of different fares on its domestic routes from 582 to just 15, all of them significantly lower than current coach fares.
Along with the new Texas Class fare plan, Braniff will be converting to a 143-seat, single class of leather-seated service on all of its 727 domestic flights from 33 cities, including flights from National and Dulles airports. This conversion is expected to be completed by Dec. 1, officials of the financially strapped airline said.
"Our Texas Class fares are the simplest and lowest unrestricted fares of any nationwide air carrier," Braniff President Howard Putnam said. "They are available every day, on every seat of every Braniff flight, with no strings attached and no small print."
As examples of the new one-way Texas Class fares--which replace all coach, first-class, super-saver and other types of fares--Braniff said travelers from Washington could fly to New York for $39, to Nashville for $79, to Dallas/Fort Worth for $135, and to Los Angeles for $170.
"This is not a last gasp for Braniff, as some other airline executives would have you believe," Putman said in a news conference at Braniff's headquarters at Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport, luxury quarters he hopes to lease to a richer company. "This program is designed to simplify our fare structure, to increase our revenues and to generate new business."
American Airlines on Friday called the fare plan "financially ill-advised"--one that could "undermine the economic viability of the entire air transportation system at a time when all airlines are experiencing difficulty."
Nonetheless, American said it will match Braniff's low fares on the 15 routes in which they directly compete with Braniff, including the Washington-D/FW route.
"American is an intensely competitive airline," said its senior vice president for marketing, Thomas G. Plaskett, in announcing the move to match the fares. "We know how to compete and will not allow a rival to undersell us."
Braniff's fare structure will apply to all domestic flights from the 33 U.S. cities Braniff serves, except from D/FW to six Texas and Oklahoma cities it serves in competition with Southwest Airlines, where Putnam served as president before going to Braniff. On those routes, Braniff will employ a two-tier pricing system, one on weekdays and one on weekends, with fares $1 lower than Southwest's.
"It's the first time an airline's entire domestic tariff is printed on one side of one piece of paper," a local Braniff official said.
Braniff officials said they would have two classes of service, at reduced fares, on their Boeing 747 flights to Honolulu and London--Texas Class and a more expensive service that is cheaper than first class, called World Class.