February 19, 2012- This spring and through the summer, airfares are expected to increase on all U.S. airlines. The airlines are blaming the fare increases on the soaring price of fuel, which is now costing them billions more than they paid last year.
The end result is passengers will be paying more for fares. Fares normally increase during the summer travel season, but experts believe they will increase earlier than expected. In April or May, the increases should take affect and will probably increase again as summer approaches.
In just the first two months of 2012, airlines have increased fares twice and that is during the slow winter travel season. One expert said, between now and May there will be small gradual fare increases and then a big jump in late April or early May. Just at the time when most travellers start shopping around for their summer fares.
Between January of 2011 and January of 2012, prices on airfares increased on average by 9% according to the trade group Airlines of America. Those increases were driven by fuel prices as jet fuel increased in price by 18% during the same period. Over 48 million gallons of fuel are burned daily by airlines, making it their biggest cost.
Airlines try to wait until the last minute to increase fares and even try to find other alternatives like new aircraft. However, a whole fleet could take years to change and the simpler response it to just increase fares.