Airlines should pass on fuel savings: Fuel Trac

Despite a substantial fall in oil prices, Australian airlines are not passing fuel savings along to passengers, a fuel watchdog has argued.

The Brisbane-based Fuel Trac said while jet fuel prices have recently fell on international markets from USD 181 per barrel in July to USD 123 per barrel, airlines were not cutting their fuel surcharges.

“Let’s get honest and reduce those fuel surcharges when an international price moves down as substantially as it has done,” Fuel Trac spokesperson Geoff Trotter told ABC.

Mr Trotter said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) should investigate aviation fuel surcharges.

“Given that the ACCC is always interested in the linkages between international petrol prices and what happens to the Australian consumers, perhaps they should interest themselves in relation to those Australians that have to fly for business and for holidays, who have seen no substantial reduction in fuel surcharges despite this significant drop,” he said.

While Virgin Blue said the carrier would seek to cut its charge if the oil market gains more stability, Qantas argued the price of fuel still remained high and the market conditions were volatile.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said the international aviation industry is projected to report expanded losses of USD 5.2 billion this year, still hit hard by oil prices.

“The difficult business environment is expected to continue”, IATA director-general Giovanni Bisignani told Reuters.

“We expect losses of USD 5.2 billion this year…With an expected oil price of USD 110 per barrel – USD 136 for jet fuel – and continued weak growth, industry losses are expected to continue at USD 4.1 billion in 2009.”

The IATA’s projection of industry losses has been reduced from USD 6.1 billion as oil prices have eased recently.

The industry posted profits of USD 5.6 billion last year.

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