Airline fuel surcharge inconsistencies exposed


SYDNEY – A survey of airline fuel surcharges between Australia and the UK has unveiled significant inconsistencies.

The disparity between the world’s major airlines is so great that Australian flyers have been warned by the nation’s largest travel agency Flight Centre to ensure they take the surcharges into account before deciding which airline to use.

A schedule of 13 airlines flying the long-haul route between Sydney and London shows passengers can pay anything between zero and A$802.40 in surcharges – on top of the quoted fares. (US$1 = A$0.92 at the time of writing).

The charges quoted by Flight Centre on April 16 for a Sydney-London-Sydney return flight are:

Emirates: NIL

Korean: $240.00
Virgin Atlantic: $269.60

Cathay: $291.20

Etihad: $318.00

Singapore Airlines: $372.40

United $373.00

Thai: $405.40

Qantas, British Airways, Air New Zealand: $424.00

Malaysian: $519.40

Japan Airlines $802.40

Flight Centre Limited MD Graham Turner said airlines’ varying application of fuel surcharges and other instances of component pricing in the travel industry had made comparisons difficult.

“In the current climate, it is not unusual to see an airfare advertised excluding taxes, particularly on some overseas websites,” he said.

Flight Centre Limited has called on airlines to eliminate fuel surcharges and to return to the traditional system of incorporating fuel and all other operating costs into ticket prices.

“Emirates has adopted this policy and has benefited hugely from increased business, but others have continued to treat fuel as somehow separate to the cost of the airfare,” said Turner.

“Fuel, like maintenance, taxes and labour costs, is obviously an integral component of air travel expense, so it is difficult to see why it should be treated as a separate surcharge.”