BA piles on the pounds

Regular customers of British Airways (BA) could find themselves out of pocket in future, after the flag-carrying airline increased its fuel surcharge by £12. BA says that the rise reflects the “fluctuating price of worldwide oil” in light of ongoing political crises in North Africa and the Middle East.

The BBC News website says that the average surcharge applied to tickets will be in the region of £75-125, depending on the number of hours that the plane spends in the air.

For example, any flight lasting longer than nine hours, such as London to Singapore, will incur a fuel surcharge of £88, up from £76. On First and Club World flights the levy increases to £125, a difference of £17 over 2010 figures.

Passengers on flights lasting between three hours and nine hours can expect to pay a £75 fuel tax, while First and Club World customers will have to part with £105, increases of £12 and £17 respectively. Durations of less than three hours are considered short-haul flights, and are currently exempt from the increase in BA’s fuel surcharge.

Oil prices have skyrocketed in just six months, from $72 per barrel in August last year to $104 on February 17 2011. The hike has been attributed to a weak dollar and a spate of anti-government protests in Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya. Worryingly, Edward Meir, an analyst at MF Global, said that it was “unlikely (that) oil prices will settle any time soon".

BA’s fuel surcharge has served as a yardstick for the changing price of oil over the past few years. The London-based airline increased its fuel surcharge in 2008, before reducing it twice in subsequent years. Then, in December 2010, BA added £10 to the fuel tax, as oil prices reached $90 per barrel.

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