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Paying the Price: Utahns paying premium at pump, seeing flight fare increases

Posted at 8:16 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 23:34:51-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Due to rising energy costs, Utahns are paying premiums on modes of travel and transportation.

“It has been busy before the Russia Ukraine conflict. We already saw stressors at the pump — the price of oil was going up because of an increase in demand and a decrease in supply,” said John Treanor, a spokesperson for AAA.

Treanor noted on Monday that the national average for a gallon of regular gas was $4.25. In Utah, the average was $4.34. The highest gasoline prices could be found in Kane County at $4.71 with the lowest in Daggett County at $4.20.

“The majority of people said that when gas got over $4 a gallon they would make changes to their daily life, but few would make changes to planned trips,” said Treanor. “People who wanted to hit the road, especially for vacations, whether it be spring break or summer, were going to do that no matter the cost.”

Treanor cautioned that travelers could also see increases in airfare if they haven’t already.

“You might cringe when you fill up at the gas tank, but the reality is there are things that you don’t see that are going to have an impact as well — one being airline prices,” said Treanor. “During the pandemic where fewer people were flying, airlines weren’t buying surplus of fuel like they normally do, which means they wouldn’t be buying fuel at costs. The cost is higher.”

Airline industry veteran Andrew Levy, who is the founder, chairman and CEO of Avelo Airlines, says the industry is seeing an increase in demand. As a result of that demand, there’s an ability to price the product higher while dealing with rising energy costs.

“Fuel is our single biggest expense, so when it goes up by a third, which is what it has done if you go back let’s say four months, it’s a big deal,” said Levy. “If you’re seeing it going up at the pump, we’re seeing the same thing.”

Avelo flies from Ogden-Hinckley Airport to Burbank, California three times per week with low fares compared to competitor airlines flying from Salt Lake City. Levy expects to see travel demand increase into the summer months. He also hopes to increase the amount of flights Avelo performs out of Ogden.

“We’re going to have fewer flights than we would otherwise have had if energy prices were lower,” said Levy. “By constricting capacity, that’s the way to actually take fares up a little bit. But we’re talking about maybe it’s $10 each way. We’re not talking about $50 or $100... That’s not the kind of price increases we’re going to see across the board, at least not for Avelo.”

Travelers on social media have been voicing concern over increased flight fares from major airlines since energy prices began to surge. Levy anticipates Avelo tickets will only increase $5-10 each direction.

“I don’t think these prices are here to stay forever, but I think they’re probably here for a while and we’ll manage through it,” said Levy.