Think of airfares as the Titanic and fuel costs as the iceberg. Only in this case, nothing is going down.
We already warned you that airfares would likely be going up this year, and that higher fuel costs, pushed by rising crude oil costs, were one of the major reasons why.
Every time the giant oil companies jack up the price of crude oil, the cost of everybody’s gas goes up, and the airlines are no exception.
Now, USA Today is reporting that the airlines just this week started raising fares by to $10 to $20 per round-trip flight. And it’s only going to get worse.
You can read the entire USA Today here.
This is the one area in which I actually feel some sympathy for the airlines. Being one of their biggest customers worldwide, you’d think the oil companies would cut them some slack on prices.
Not a chance.
Consider. Airlines track their fuel prices by the barrel. A barrel is 31 gallons.According to the International Air Transport Association, the going rate for Jet A this weeks is $112 a barrel.
The most numerous airliner flying today is the Boeing 737, seen above. A 737 typically holds just under 5,000 gallons of fuel. The newest models, called Next Generation 737s, hold just under 7,000 gallons.
So it takes 161 barrels of what they call Jet A fuel to fill up an older 737, and 225 barrels to gas up a new one.
Every time an older 737 pushes back from the gate, some oil company’s cash register rings up $18,000. For one of the NG737s, the tab will be more than $25,000.
Now consider an airline like Southwest, that flies more than 550 of those 737s, more than 350 of which are NGs.
That airline has to burn more than $12 million a day just to get its planes off the ground.
Feel free to wince.
And Southwest doesn’t even fly wide-body jumbo jets.
Have you ever felt sorry for the guy across from you at the gas station, the one filling up his Hummer or his RV? It’s the same with airlines. The bigger the airplane, the bigger the bill.
One of the world’s most popular wide-bodies, the Boeing 777-200ER, takes a max of just under 48,000 gallons of Jet A. That’s 1,548 barrels. So feeding that beast will set you back about $173,000 per plane.
American Airlines flies 47 of them, one of 11 different types of planes they fly. This is typical for major airlines around the world.
I’m guessing the beancounters who track fuel costs for AA periodically have all sharp objects removed from their desks.
Throw the salaries of flight crew and the cost of maintenance into the mix, and it means that every airliner that goes out less than full loses money. And you can bet the rent that the current jet fuel price will be higher this time next month than it is now.
This is one reason why you won’t see the airlines giving up their add-on fees anytime soon, if ever. It also explains why they deliberately oversell every flight. It’s how they’re keeping themselves profitable.
But they’re keeping themselves in the black by making your wallet see red, and it’s only likely to worsen as the year goes on.
This means you need to be more diligent than ever in stalking airfare bargains, by any means necessary.
Check the individual airlines sites, hassle though it may be.
Check the online travel agency sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz and the rest.
Check fare auction sites like Priceline.
Check the aggregators like Kayak, Momondo and CheapOAir.
Find a sharp travel agent who really knows where the bargains are buried.
Use sites like FareCompare.com, that track airfare prices and suggest when to buy and when to wait.
Do whatever you have to do, but do it. There’s no way to avoid paying more for airfares, but diligence on your part will ease the pain.
It also means you need to keep an eye on the efforts of airlines to limit your access to fare information online.
Powered by Facebook Comments