RPT-UPDATE 1-AMR initiates fare increase; some rivals match
(Repeating with no change to headline or text)
* American Airlines launches fare hike
* Continental, United, Delta match
* Fare increase may become first industrywide hike of 2010
(Updates with United Airlines matching hikes and with closing prices)
CHICAGO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - AMR Corp's AMR.N American Airlines has raised domestic fares, and some competitors have matched as the industry struggles to gain pricing power and rebound from the 2009 downturn, an AMR spokesman said on Thursday.
The fare hike, initiated on Tuesday, spurred increases from Continental Airlines CAL.N and Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) on Wednesday. UAL Corp's UAUA.O United Airlines matched it late on Thursday.
"This increase represents the first attempted domestic hike of 2010 compared to four in 2009, 15 in 2008 and 17 in 2007," said Rick Seaney, chief executive of Farecompare.com.
The airline industry was battered in 2009 by an economic recession that eroded travel demand -- especially business travel. Major airlines, however, have been reporting a return of business travel demand and some predict better demand going forward.
Seaney said American hiked fares on 9,000 routes between cities by $16, $10 and $6 round-trip, covering most of American's domestic route system.
Shares of AMR closed down 2.7 percent at $8.26 on the New York Stock Exchange. UAL shares closed down 3.1 percent at $13.13 on the Nasdaq. The Arca airline index .XAL was down 2.0 percent.
(Additional reporting by Ilaina Jonas)
(Reporting by Kyle Peterson, Editing by Dave Zimmerman)