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DELTA CUTS FARES IN BID TO BOOST ADVANCE BUSINESS

Delta Air Lines Inc. said it has slashed fares by as much as 40 percent for travel in the United States and Canada through mid-December to boost advance business.

Fares are valid for travel from Aug. 13 to Dec. 15. Tickets must be purchased 14 days in advance up to Aug. 9.Some Delta competitors said they will match the fare cuts. The fall season in North America is usually a slow travel period, the companies said.

An AMR Corp. spokesman said its American Airlines unit will match Delta prices on competing routes. UAL Corp. unit United Airlines said it expanded the discount to all its U.S. routes.

Smith Barney analyst Leslie Hardin said the fare war is nothing unusual because travel usually declines after the summer in North America.

The airlines "have gotten pretty rational on their fare cuts," she said.