Thursday, July 3, 2008

Airline service hobbled by rising fuel prices

High fuel prices could mean major reductions in airline service at the Colorado Springs Airport, according to an analysis published late last month by the Pennsylvania-based Business Travel Coalition.

The group ranked the Springs as one of the 50 large markets most likely to lose some or all air service as a result of higher fuel prices. Among the factors making airports vulnerable to higher prices are proximity to other airports with low-fare service, airline mergers, previous fluctuations in airline service, widespread use of regional jets, service from regional carriers that are at risk of losing their contracts with major airlines.

“The fuel crisis is having an impact beyond the gas pump and is now likely to cause irreparable harm to businesses large and small through a significant reduction in air service,” Kevin Mitchell, chairman and founder of the coalition, said in a news release. “Liquidations at major airlines would have catastrophic effects on the economy, reduce services in cities large and small and impact people in Colorado Springs.”

An earlier study by the group estimated that at current fuel prices, airlines would have to boost fares another 21 percent to 24 percent and cut flight capacity by 18 percent to 20 percent, eliminating between 74,000 and 84,000 jobs.

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