AAFES caps fuel price increase in Europe at 25 cents per gallon
While U.S. motorists are paying more than $3 a gallon for gas these days, U.S. drivers in Europe are catching a break at their local on-base stations.
Typically, motorists in Europe who purchase fuel through the Army and Air Force Exchange Service pay a little more per gallon than drivers in the States. And with premium gas prices shooting up more than 41 cents a gallon in the last month, prices at AAFES pumps could have jumped nearly as much when the new monthly price goes into effect on Monday.
“The way the market has been going, we were looking at increases up to 35 cents a gallon,” Maj. Gen. Bill Essex, AAFES commander, said in a news release Tuesday. But “AAFES is using every possible option to mitigate the pain we are all feeling at the pump.”
Citing the “adverse market conditions,” AAFES has capped the amount of its increase at the pumps at 10 percent — or 25 cents — above the current price, the release stated.
That means, while the average price for a gallon of gas in the States is $3.08 for premium unleaded, most AAFES customers in Europe will be paying between $2.88 and $2.96, depending on their location.
A look at the per-gallon prices across the continent:
Germany: Unleaded — $2.780, super unleaded — $.2885, diesel — $2.861United Kingdom: Super unleaded — $2.832, diesel — $2.811Azores: Super unleaded — $2.941Turkey: Super unleaded — $2.962, diesel — $3.020Netherlands: Super unleaded — $3.095, diesel — $3.060In the Netherlands, the new prices for all grades, including diesel, were set at the “floor,” or minimum, selling prices, according to an AAFES board of directors’ policy. The floor-pricing policy is used when the cost of fuel and other fees associated with it — such as the cost to run the fuel coupon program — exceeds the Department of Energy’s national average price for gasoline.
Prices for gas and diesel fuel in Italy were unavailable at press time.
Even with the break, drivers at gas stations in Germany say they believe prices will continue to rise.
Sgt. 1st Class Philip Dennis out of Hanau, Germany, said $2.78 a gallon for regular unleaded is a big jump that will hit people in their pockets, but he knows prices could be higher.
“Of course, $2.78 a gallon is nothing like the $2.91 or $3.05 a gallon that they’re paying in the States, but nonetheless it’s still going up,” Dennis said. “I assume AAFES is doing its best to keep its prices as low as they can.”
Sgt. 1st Class Alfred Curtis out of Kaiserslautern, Germany, said he owns a sports utility vehicle and an Audi but prefers to ride his motorcycles because of the money he saves.
“Rain, sleet or snow right now, I’m riding a motorcycle,” he said.
Customers in Europe can save some money by buying gas coupon books in April, before the higher prices go into effect at the beginning of May, AAFES officials said. U.S. motorists in Europe are allowed to buy 400 liters of gas per month, either at the pumps or through coupon books.
While no exact figures are available at this time, according to AAFES spokeswoman Debbie Byerly, store managers at Pulaski Barracks in Vogelweh, Germany, and at Mannheim, Germany, say that sales for coupons more than double when the gas prices are going to go up.
The high fuel costs are a result of a number of factors, including high crude oil prices, seasonal refinery outages and tensions with big oil-producing countries such as Iran and Nigeria. High prices have led some politicians in the States to call for investigations into supply manipulation by the large oil companies, according to various media reports this week.
High fuel prices and shortages are becoming largely inevitable, said Lt. Col. Steve Miska, of the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade. While gassing up at Leighton Barracks in Würzburg, Germany, on Thursday, Miska said he and his wife spend a couple of hundred dollars a month on fuel.
“We’re always going to run short on fuel,” Miska said. “It took thousands of years to produce, and we’re going to run out.”
Adaptation, he said, will be the only cure for the rising costs.
“I think it’s going to continue to climb,” Miska said. “And we’re going to have to learn to move to some alternative source of fuel.”
Stars and Stripes’ Steve Mraz, Geoff Ziezulewicz and Sam Amrhein contributed to this report.