Trans World Airlines Inc. said yesterday that it will begin adding a fuel surcharge to the cost of its tickets to help offset increasing costs.

The surcharge, which will be based on mileage and will go up and down with the cost of jet fuel, will be added to domestic fares for tickets written on or after June 19 and will be added to the cost of tickets for international travel beginning on July 15, TWA said.

The TWA move is the latest in a series of attempts by the industry to increase returns. Since the beginning of the year, when Texas Air Corp. announced deeper discount fares, the nation's major airlines have engaged in a back-and-forth that has resulted in somewhat higher fares.

But some attempts to raise fares have been quashed when Texas Air Corp. refused to go along.

It was unclear yesterday whether other major airlines would follow the TWA move, but it was clear that the notion appealed to many of them.

"We're examining it. We're supportive of any attempt to recover higher fuel costs," said Matt Gonring, a spokesman for United Air Lines.

Continental spokesman Rick Scott said yesterday that the airline was looking at TWA's surcharge.

TWA said the charge on domestic tickets will be $3 on one-way trips of less than 500 miles; $5 on trips of 501 to 1,000 miles, and $7 on trips of more than 1,000 miles. The costs would double for round-trip tickets. On international flights the surcharge would be $8 one-way and $16 roundtrip.

TWA said that the surcharge was not a fare increase. "At the moment it's an increase, but as fuel goes down it would be a decrease," said Robert B. Cozzi, vice president of revenue management for TWA. "Rather than trying to address it in the fare structure, where it could get locked in, we're trying to address it this way."

TWA said that the cost of jet fuel has risen in the last six months from 43.9 cents a gallon to 53 cents, a 20 percent increase. Cozzi noted that some tickets already carry a fuel surcharge that reflects taxes levied in Chicago, Boston and Florida.

Fuel costs represent about 16 percent of the industry's costs, said George James of Airline Economics. The industry took a heavy hit in the early 1980s when rising fuel costs pushed that figure to approximately 30 percent of its costs.

"Whether or not it {the fuel surcharge} sticks depends on how the competition responds," he said.

John Pincavage, an airline industry analyst with PaineWebber Inc., said that the surcharge might well stick for the next three months, during the peak summer travel period. " "But you've got to be very skeptical about whether it works when times get tough. The real test will be after Labor Day when traffic slows down and people tend to discount fares," he said.

"I think this can be viewed as an attempt to overcome the reluctance on the part of some carriers to raise fares when demand is quite strong," said Julius Maldutis, an analyst with Salomon Brothers Inc. Fuel prices have been creeping up, he said.The average fare fell 9.3 percent last year, he said.