BA fuel surcharge rises for 11th time

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The Independent Online

British Airways has hiked its fuel surcharges on all flights to offset the record price of oil.

The carrier explained the price increase – the 11th time it has put up fuel fees in the past three and a half years – is a response to an expected £136m rise in fuel costs for the second half of the year.

The move comes less than three months after the US Department of Justice fined BA a record $300m (£145m) after it was found to have colluded with Virgin Atlantic to fix surcharges. The Office of Fair Trading also levied a £121.5m fine on the company. Virgin escaped without a fine because it tipped off the authorities.

From this Thursday, BA will add £10 to flights of less than nine hours, £15 to flights of more than nine hours and £2 to short-haul flights, increasing the total charges to £48, £58 and £20 respectively.

The company painted the hikes as an unavoidable response to the rising price of oil, which could reach $100 per barrel. BA's commercial director, Robert Boyle, said: "The cost of oil has reached record levels, rising by more than $20 per barrel since we last increased our fuel surcharge, in June 2007."

The budget airline Ryanair, which does not levy fuel surcharges, reacted with disdain. "British Airways is gouging passengers with unjustified fuel-surcharge increases when it is getting its fuel at $75 a barrel, almost $20 below market prices," a spokesman said.

The new fees are also much higher than those charged by BA's rival Virgin Atlantic. The latter increased its charges by £5 each last month, to £43 for flights under eight hours and £48 for flights of more than eight hours. A Virgin spokesman said that it may hike fees again if the price of oil stays at more than $90 per barrel. "We are monitoring the oil price closely, but it will have to be a sustained new level for us to increase the surcharge," he said.

BA first introduced a fuel surcharge in May 2004, when it added £2 to all long-haul and short-haul flights.

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