After other airlines refused to follow its lead, US Airways on Monday said it would again offer complimentary beverages to its economy-class passengers after the practice put them at a competitive disadvantage.
“We are firmly committed to the a la carte model and believe it’s the right one for our business,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Doug Parker. However, “It is also a work in progress.”
The Tempe, Ariz., airline said in June it would charge customers for sodas, juices and other refreshments and add a $15 fee for the first checked bag to help pay an estimated $2 billion increase in its annual jet fuel bill.
Benchmark oil prices peaked at about $147 a barrel last July and then plunged by more than half as a global recession took hold and eroded demand for air services.
In February, US Airways said its 2008 fuel bill grew by $1.4 billion, from 2007 — $600 million short of its June estimate.
Other carriers also adopted the a la carte model, charging customers for pillows, premium seating and checked bags, but only US Airways charged for beverages. Some industry observers and most of its customers have speculated airlines would roll back the extra fees now that jet fuel prices had fallen.
US Airways said Monday it still expects to generate between $400 to $500 million in 2009 form its other a la carte fees.
People who like to order beer, wine, and cocktails on their flights will still be charged $7 for each drink.