American motorists in Italy will pay about 23 cents more for a gallon of fuel starting Sunday.

Fuel coupons will cost 6 cents a liter more in April than they have for the last four months, Bart DiMuccio, administrator for the Navy-run program in Italy, said Wednesday. That translates to a price of $2.736 a gallon — in line with what Americans living in Germany currently are paying in the program run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

The price of diesel fuel also is on the rise, going from 75 cents a liter ($2.85 a gallon) to 78 cents a liter ($2.96).

While the AAFES-run program adjusts prices weekly across most of Europe, the Navy program in Italy makes changes at the beginning of the month. DiMuccio said pricing is based on three factors: the actual price of gasoline, the euro-dollar exchange rate and the profit or loss the program has sustained in recent months. So, if the nonprofit program has lost money recently, the prices are likely to rise to offset that.

“We put in a lot of effort to make sure the prices are as fair as possible,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The price of coupon books hit an all-time high in September at $88 for 100 liters of unleaded fuel. That translates to $3.34 a gallon. That dropped to $76 for 100 liters ($2.58 a gallon) for the next two months, before falling again to $66 for 100 liters ($2.51) in December. The prices have stayed at that level since then.

April’s prices will be four cents a liter higher — or 15 cents a gallon — than they were in April 2006.

“I’m just glad we’re not paying the Italian prices,” said Senior Airman Karaolien Thornton, who was filling up at the Agip station just outside the perimeter of Aviano Air Base. The Italian price was 1.266 euros a liter (or $6.33 a gallon). “[The increase isn’t] really a lot of money and I’m not complaining.”

Neither was Airman 1st Class Angel Soto, who was getting gas at the same station. “It doesn’t matter to me too much,” he said.

Americans in Italy are required to purchase coupons at AAFES or Navy Exchange stores to receive discounted gasoline. There are no gas stations on base and the coupons are redeemable at Agip and Esso stations.

Individual allotments are based on engine size, with most people eligible for a maximum of 200 or 300 liters monthly per vehicle. That means a typical car owner will be paying $12 or $18 more for gasoline in April than in March if he or she chooses to purchase the entire allotment.

AAFES gas prices for the rest of Europe are announced each Thursday before the prices change on Saturday. Since the inception of the weekly pricing in February, changes in AAFES fuel prices have mirrored changes in the average price for fuel in the States. If that trend continues, motorists buying gas at AAFES stations in Europe can expect prices to rise about 3.3 cents for a gallon of regular unleaded gas on Saturday.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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