Airlines criticised for raising fares

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The Independent Online

Airlines came under fire today for raising fares because of rising fuel prices.

Airlines came under fire today for raising fares because of rising fuel prices.

British Airways put its fares for flights worldwide up by three per cent today, while KLM Royal Dutch Airlines raised ticket prices by 4 per cent yesterday.

BA said the new fares would take effect immediately on all current scheduled worldwide fares. A BA spokesman said that fuel prices have risen by 46% since August 1999 and its fuel bill now exceeded £1 billion a year.

He said: "This obviously comes as a result of the significant rises in fuel prices. We are not alone in this decision. It is an industry-wide rise by a similar amount.

"The high price of fuel is effecting all airlines," the spokesman added.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced yestdreay that it was raising fares by 4 per cent due to higher fuel costs.

But the higher fares were criticised as jet aircraft fuel does not carry duty of VAT.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Paul de Zylva said: "Amazingly there is no duty or VAT whatsoever on the fuel used by jet aircraft.

"While motorists pay tax when they fill up their tank and we all pay to heat our homes, the aviation industry gets away scot-free. This is effectively a public subsidy."

Tim Johnson, director of the Aviation Environment Federation, said: "More and more people are becoming aware of this anomaly. The AEF wants to see a level playing field where the aviation industry pays its fair share of tax instead of being given an advantage over other sectors.

"This tax exemption does not make social, economic or environmental sense."

The Air Transport Users Council said the announcements were "bad news".

Simon Evans, its spokesman, said: "Of course it is unfortunate, but the reality is that fuel prices have been rising for a long time and we know that airlines have been blaming the increase on fuel prices for one of the reasons for plummeting losses, so it was inevitable that it was going to filter through to customers eventually.

"Fares are not regulated generally and the airlines are free to set the fares they want, which is what they are doing.

"I'm sure that this announcement has been made because people will already know prices are going up because of the recent protests, so it's cynical of them to get the message out when people are more inclined to accept the explanation."

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