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Oil Prices And Airfares: Nothing In Common?

Drop in gas prices doesn't mean airline tickets will be cheaper  Dec 21, 2008

So you figured, with the price of jet fuel — like the gas you buy at the pump — coming back down to earth, you might get a price break at the airport.

Guess again. Two airlines currently serving Stewart International Airport and one recently departed say not to expect any price changes soon, here or anywhere else. And don't expect to see any flights added to the local schedule anytime soon, either.

When the price of jet fuel started going out of sight earlier this year, airlines began adding new fees to cover the extra cost. Some started charging for checking a second bag. Some even charged for the first bag. U.S. Airways introduced an a la carte system to pay for on-board services like meals and entertainment.

US Airways spokesman Andrew J. Christie Jr. offers this explanation for not making price changes right now:

"While the cost of fuel has dropped significantly since this past summer, US Airways, as well as the entire airline industry, has to recover from when record fuel prices were at $150 a barrel."

And while fuel prices are down, there's now the uncertainty of the economy overall, Christie noted.

Other airlines offered similar explanations. Judy Graham-Weaver, a spokeswoman for AirTran, which pulled out of Stewart in September, said while fuel prices have gone down, so has demand and discretionary consumer spending on things like travel.

JetBlue, which still allows one free checked bag, has found that fewer than 25 percent of its customers check a second bag, said spokeswoman Alison Eshelman. JetBlue also doesn't plan any changes in its fares, fees or schedules.

Northwest, now a subsidiary of Delta, referred questions to a Delta spokeswoman, who did not return calls.

Spot prices for jet fuel coming through New York Harbor peaked at just over $3.97 a gallon in July, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The spot price for the same fuel was $1.51 per gallon Tuesday.

Drop in gas prices doesn't mean airline tickets will be cheaper
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