Travel experts say rising gas prices could soon lead to more expensive flights, as the Russian-Ukrainian crisis keep on going.
President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that the United States would ban all imports of Russian oil, increasing the toll on the Russian economy in retaliation for his invasion of Ukraine, but he acknowledged that this would come at costs for Americans. , especially at the gas pump.
According to the AAA automobile clubthe price of regular gasoline on average in the United States reached a record high on Tuesday to $4.173, surpassing a record previously set in 2008, when the US and UK governments banned imports of Russian oil. On Tuesday, California had the highest average price per gallon among U.S. states at $5.44, while Oklahoma was among the lowest at $3.719.
But the pain at the pump could cause pain at the counters of the plane tickets. However, AAA says it doesn’t expect flight prices to spike anytime soon.
“The cost of airfare does not yet impact the decision to travel,” AAA spokesman Doug Shupe told FOX television stations.
Shupe said just because drivers pay more at gas stations doesn’t mean airlines will immediately follow. He said airlines are more concerned about the cost of crude oil.
“Once crude oil rises, airlines are hurt if they don’t buy futures contracts to hedge the uncertainty,” he continued. “Jet fuel has to be micro-processed (refined) to a higher degree than the fuel used for cars and that is expensive.”
“As the cost per barrel of crude increases, you can expect airlines to respond in key markets where the increase is limited and demand is high,” he added.
Some airlines used to use fuel hedging – where they would enter into a contract and lock in fuel prices with a company for an extended period. But some airlines have abandoned this practice because the lower oil price.
According to Reuters, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are now completely uncovered.
Nevertheless, some international airlines have already passed on high fuel prices to their customers. Reuters reported that Malaysia’s AirAsia and some Chinese airlines have raised fuel surcharges for passengers.
Shupe said he had no estimate of when US airlines would raise ticket prices if the Russia-Ukraine conflict continued.
Rising gas prices couldn’t come at a more inopportune time as Americans look forward to spring and the upcoming travel seasons.
AAA reported that the 2022 travel season got off to a much stronger start compared to a year ago, as bookings increased. The agency said a new quarterly survey showed traveler confidence is on the rise. Sixty-three percent of Floridians said they feel comfortable traveling now — a significant increase from 40% at the start of 2021, according to the agency.
Shupe said the best advice for travelers is to book their plane tickets as soon as possible.
“Plan ahead as much as possible, be flexible and book early,” he said.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.