West jet air fares

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After a year that saw strong growth and low fuel costs, Canada’s two largest airlines could face headwinds in 2018 thanks to a recent rally in jet fuel prices, a move some analysts say could lead to increased fares.

According to S&P Global Platts, global jet fuel prices as of Dec. 29 hit US$81.3 per barrel, an increase of 21.1 per cent from the same time in 2016. As of Wednesday, Platts said jet fuel prices had hit US$82.76 per barrel. 

Matthew Kohlman, a senior managing editor at Platts, said the benchmark spot price of jet fuel — based on an assessment of U.S. Gulf Coast fuel — is the highest it has been since December 2014. While jet fuel prices tend to spike in December because of increased travel, Kohlman said a major factor behind the surge is the increase seen in the oil complex in general. On Thursday U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude closed at US$63.80, up 23 cents and the highest since December 2014. 

Air Canada says it will be adjusting the fare for travellers who flew out of Fort McMurray after they were charged a premium for a flight earlier this week.

In a statement posted on their website, Air Canada refuted accusations that they hiked airfares as thousands of residents fled Fort McMurray due to raging wildfires. They did say however, that premium fares were a result of Air Canada’s computerized fare system.

“It is not correct that we raised fares in response to this devastating situation,” Air Canada said. “In some cases, customers booking last minute on May 3 and 4 on flights from Fort McMurray and Edmonton paid premium fares.