Thomas Cook adds fuel surcharge to holiday bills

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The Independent Online

Travel giant Thomas Cook is re-introducing fuel surcharges, blaming ever-rising oil prices for supplements that could add as much as 4 per cent to holiday costs.

The extra charges will apply to all the company's holidays and charter flights booked from yesterday onwards for the current winter period, as well as the coming summer and winter 2011-12 seasons.

The move adds £15 per person on short-haul trips of less than three hours, £25 per person on flights of between three and seven hours, and £40 per person on long-haul flights of more than seven hours.

It comes against a backdrop of sharply increasing oil prices. Yesterday saw Brent Crude still hovering above the $112-per-barrel mark after several weeks of strong increases –including a two-and-a-half-year high of $119 last week – over concerns about tensions in the Middle East.

The Thomas Cook levy is a response to longer-term oil price increases, as well as the most recent spike. Oil has risen steadily from just $87 at the start of last year as the global economy recovered momentum last year, sending jet fuel prices up by more than 40 per cent over the same period.

Ian Ailles, at Thomas Cook UK & Ireland, said: "We've worked hard to keep the impact of the rising fuel costs on our holidaymakers to a minimum but the fuel levy is an unavoidable result of the rising price of oil."

The latest batch of charges is not the first time the company has added a levy for fuel to its holiday prices.

The supplements were last introduced by Thomas Cook in 2008, when the global economic boom sent oil to an all-time high of $147 per barrel in the middle of the year. But the surcharges were cut back again by theautumn as oil plummeted following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and they were scrapped altogether for holidays in the winter of 2009-10 and in the summer of 2010.

Commercial airlines have also been raising their fuel surcharges overrecent months.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of International Airlines Group – the newly merged British Airways and Iberia – last week refused to rule out further boosts despite the company's second increase in less than two months in early February. Mr Walsh said the matter is under continual review and warned that if oil continues to be costly, consumers must expect it to feed through to prices across the board.