If fuel costs are under control, then why are airlines stalling?

ishot-2The Bureau of Transportation Statistics has some fresh numbers this morning that suggest airlines are no longer spending a fortune on fuel. Last August, domestic carriers spent an average of $2.02 per gallon on fuel — up from $1.90 a gallon the previous month, but down dramatically from the $3.54 in August 2008.

Given that fuel prices — which, after all, were the excuse for adding more feesseem to be under control, what’s wrong here?

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Why are carriers like Southwest posting losses?

Those are rhetorical questions. Sorta.

We know that fuel is just one of the airlines’ costs, that there are other factors (notably the economy) that are playing into the current industry-wide problems.

Still, it’s worth filing this information away for another day, when the airline industry plays the fuel card again. And then those of us who are more level-headed observers can say: it’s never just about the fuel costs.

What do you think? With energy prices back to affordable levels, do you think the airlines should have something to show for it?

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