Weekend survey: Are the latest fare hikes fair?

Here’s a question I’ve been getting a lot since the beginning of the year: Are the current round of airfare hikes justified?

Sure, energy prices are rising with the turmoil in the Middle East. Jet fuel prices are up more than 50 percent from a year ago.

But don’t airlines hedge their fuel purchases? (Hedging allows airlines to pre-pay for their fuel, offsetting the risk of higher prices.)

With airline ticket prices up by an average of more than $50 since the beginning of the year, are carriers just trying to cover their increased costs — or are they exploiting our expectations that ticket prices will rise, when, in fact, they have no reason to?

At least not yet.
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