Crude oil futures on Tuesday
were trading at more than $82 per barrel, hitting the highest level since May
and nearing what one airfare analyst called the "danger territory"
for airfare surcharges and price hikes.
"Fuel surcharges typically get looked at when oil prices get into the $85
to $90 range. That's when the danger territory comes," FareCompare CEO
Rick Seaney told BTN earlier this
year, adding that "most airlines have modeled around the mid-80s for fuel
costs this year."
The last time oil prices topped $80 per barrel, Delta Air Lines attempted the
first fuel surcharge in a year-and-a-half. The carrier in April filed a $20
roundtrip fuel surcharge on "tens of thousands of mostly smaller
citypairs," though FareCompare said that went unmatched by other airlines
and ultimately fizzled.
Fuel surcharges grew dramatically in 2008 as carriers tried to cope with
$100-plus-per-barrel oil, but such fees were not covered by corporate discounts
and had little connection to the actual cost of oil, drawing the ire of
corporate travel buyers who viewed them as de facto fare hikes.