The Honorable Anthony Foxx
Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Re: Request for Investigation of Airlines’ Fuel Surcharge Practices
Dear Secretary Foxx,
The Business Travel Coalition urges the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to launch a thorough and in-depth investigation with respect to the airline industry’s continued assessment of often-sizeable fuel surcharges on many itineraries in violation of DOT’s clear “Additional Guidance on Airfare/Air Tour Price Advertisements” of February 21, 2012 (http://btcnews.co/1A1TQUZ). Some airlines flout the express admonitions of DOT in its Guidance by deceptively renaming these fuel surcharges as “carrier imposed charges."
As DOT will be well aware, oil prices have plummeted some 70 percent since June of 2014 while most U.S. airlines have left their often outsized fuel surcharges in place. We believe that the continued, widespread imposition of these substantial, add-on fuel surcharges in the face of plummeting jet fuel prices cannot be justified. This practice, therefore, constitutes an unfair and deceptive act or practice and an unfair method of competition in violation of 49 U.S.C. §41712. Further, these pervasive violations of §41712 inflict massive overcharges on consumers.
In the investigation that we urge DOT to conduct, we call on DOT to hold the airlines assessing fuel surcharges, by any term or language, to account -- by requiring them to substantiate on a route-by-route basis that the charges do indeed reflect the actual costs of fuel per passenger over some baseline amount. Several international airlines have eliminated or adjusted their fuel surcharges in an appropriate, pro-consumer manner to reflect the lower cost of fuel.
Mr. Secretary, we urge you to investigate the airline industry’s policies and practices regarding fuel surcharges.
Business Travel Coalition
Senator Richard Blumenthal
Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Robert Menendez