Virgin Atlantic hits back at Ryanair fuel-surcharge claim

Virgin Atlantic hits back at Ryanair fuel-surcharge claim

Virgin Atlantic has responded to criticism of fuel surcharges on its fares by insisting it has cut the charges twice in the past two months.

Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs claimed last week: “It’s grossly unfair on consumers that high fare airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic continue to charge fuel surcharges.”

A Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said the carrier knocked £20 off its fuel surcharges on return flights on January 28 after making a £10 cut in December.

The spokeswoman said: “We buy our fuel months and years in advance which means recent falls in the price of oil have not significantly impacted our fuel costs.

“Despite this, we moved to reduce our fuel surcharge shortly before Christmas and are pleased to be standing up for customers again with this change.”

She told Travel Weekly: “Fuel is the biggest element of the fare. But it is one of several things we break out.

“The benefit of breaking out the costs is that you can show what is outside the airline’s control.”

Virgin Atlantic’s spokeswoman added: “The surcharge does not fully recover the cost of fuel.

“There isn’t a strong correlation between the reduction in the cost of fuel and the reduction in our costs.

“We’ve done this in spite of that to be ahead of the industry.

“We are not feeling much benefit from the change in the oil price, but we are doing what we can.”

Fuel can account for 50% of the price of a long-haul flight. Carriers such as BA and Virgin Atlantic added surcharges to fares as the oil price soared through the middle of the last decade.

Airline association Iata has noted that no airline’s surcharges cover the full costs of fuel – they only recover part of it – and all must be included in the fare.

Jacobs said last week: “As oil prices fall, these savings should be passed on to customers.”

He added: “Ryanair guarantees no fuel surcharges.” However, Ryanair has made clear in the past that its customers do pay the full price of fuel in the carrier’s fares.


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