Frustration rises with AAFES gas price
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 3, 2003
Some servicemembers expressed disappointment, but not surprise, at news that Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials would raise gas prices in the coming days.
Late Wednesday, AAFES announced fuel prices would rise starting Sunday. The news came less than a week after AAFES officials said they would freeze prices while the overseas fuel pricing policy was being reviewed.
Gasoline and diesel fuel prices at AAFES facilities in Germany will increase from $1.79 to $1.85 for regular unleaded.
“It’s aggravating,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Wills, from Ramstein Air Base. “First they say they have to raise prices to subsidize diapers, then they say they can’t lower the prices because it’s locked in from the beginning of the year.
“Then we see headlines that prices in the States have dropped 10 cents a gallon,” Wills said.
“What bothers me is they’re not up-front about it,” he said.
While fuel prices went up at AAFES gas stations, they will stay the same at Navy Exchange facilities. Gas coupon prices in Italy did not go up, said an employee with the Naples’ Tax Free Office, which runs the gas coupon program.
Wills said that he recently took a trip to Naval Station Rota, Spain, where gas is distributed by the Navy Exchange. The NEX gas station had a plywood placard telling customers what the prices were in dollars per gallon, Wills said.
“Why can’t AAFES do that?” he asked. “[Americans] think of gas in dollars per gallon, so when they see 47 cents per liter, it doesn’t mean anything.
“[AAFES] should just be honest and tell us what the price is in dollars per gallon.”
Other servicemembers, however, said rising fuel prices aren’t cause for concern.
“I guess I really don’t pay too much attention to it,” said Staff Sgt. Troy Goldammer of Ramstein. “I know it hurts. … What are you going to do? You can’t really do anything about it.
“I guess you could say they have a monopoly. At least it’s cheaper than going off base.”
Capt. Charles Churchville of Ramstein said he has noticed that prices have gone up in the last two years.
Churchville, who drives a BMW, said it cost $20 to fill up his car two years ago. Now, it costs $24.
“I just buy the gas,” Churchville said. “But lately, I’ve noticed it’s taking a little more money to fill the car up.”
In addition to Germany, fuel prices are also on the rise in the United Kingdom, the Azores, Turkey and the Netherlands.
In the United Kingdom, prices per gallon will increase from $1.83 to $1.90 for super unleaded, while in the Netherlands, prices will go from $1.88 to $1.95 for super unleaded.
In the Azores, the price of super unleaded will increase from $1.55 to $1.78. And in Turkey, the price for super unleaded will increase from $1.56 to $1.80.
Changes in gasoline prices are usually announced prior to the first of each month. But pricing policy discussions delayed the announcement.
According to AAFES, it has been looking for ways to reduce the impact of stateside rising prices, and this has delayed the implementation of the monthly price adjustment, which is based on the Department of Energy CONUS averages.
AAFES gas prices are set using a market-based pricing strategy. The current policy, established in 2001, sets the price based on the Department of Energy’s monthly average for each grade of gasoline in the continental United States, plus the costs AAFES incurs in each overseas market.
AAFES spokeswoman Lt. Col. Debra Pressley told Stripes that this month, AAFES eliminated from the formula unusually high weekly prices that were the result of events such as the East Coast blackout or the pipeline break in Arizona.
Based on a monthly review of CONUS averages, the selling price may change on the first of each month at locations in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Dispensing costs are reviewed and updated annually.
In Turkey and the Azores, AAFES buys fuel under an annual contract from the Defense Energy Supply Center. At these locations the price is set once a year, using the annual DOE averages by grade, plus the incremental dispensing costs.
“No one ever likes to see a price increase, so we looked for every way we could to hold it down within the approved pricing policy,” said AAFES Commander, Maj. Gen. Kathryn Frost.
— Patrick Dickson, Sam Amrhein, Lisa Horn and Kendra Helmer contributed to this report.