Army and Air Force Exchange Service customers in Europe who were bracing for huge gas price increases in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita can ease out of their crash positions.

Stateside prices have gone up about 20 cents in a month — and at one point, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5, the national average jumped from $2.653 to $3.117.

But AAFES has eased the burden on its customers’ wallets by calculating its October prices based on pre-Katrina Department of Energy averages, which means prices are going up about 8 cents a gallon, said Debbie Byerly, AAFES Europe spokeswoman.

“Gas prices were so volatile after Hurricane Katrina because of price gouging, and that was all included in the national average,” Byerly said.

“The AAFES command in Dallas decided to use the four weeks prior to Hurricane Katrina to figure the prices for October. This is not near the increase it would have been using the regular four-week average.”

For its September fuel prices, AAFES used the Department of Energy averages for the weeks of Aug. 1-22, or $2.497 a gallon. If the October price had been calculated using the four-week DOE average from Aug. 29-Sept. 19 — $2.90 — the price could have jumped more than 40 cents a gallon.

Instead, AAFES chose to use the DOE average for the four weeks prior to Katrina: Aug. 8-29. That average of $2.577 a gallon, means pump prices in Europe are going up 8 cents, Byerly said.

When prices change on Sunday, AAFES customers in Germany will pay $2.715 for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel. Drivers in the United Kingdom will pay $2.75 a gallon for super unleaded.

The AAFES prices are typically higher than stateside prices because of incremental dispensing cost, according to an AAFES news release. The incremental costs include costs related to the gas coupon management program, labor costs, depreciation and other miscellaneous expenses associated with providing gasoline to military customers overseas, the news release stated.

A statement from AAFES Vice President Jack Morris said the organization would try to prevent the aftermath from Katrina and Rita from severely affecting its customers.

“During these uncertain times, AAFES will do everything possible to minimize the impact of fuel price increases on our customers,” he said in the statement.

For now, with AAFES customers paying less at the pump than people in the States, the organization held true to Morris’ word.

It is unclear what will happen with AAFES prices if prices in the States remain high or increase further.

“Our policy is to use the previous four weeks to determine the next month’s costs,” Byerly said. “I can’t speak to what [AAFES] will do in November.”

Customers, who said they expected a larger increase, were pleased the increase was less than a dime.

“I thought it would be more like 20 cents a gallon,” said Sgt. Larry Dupree, 82nd Engineer Battalion, Bamberg, Germany. “It’s good news that it’s not increasing as much as in the States.”

Dupree said he has spent $53 to $65 to fill up the tank in his Cadillac Escalade in September, when gas prices jumped about 20 cents per gallon over August’s prices.

“If it keeps increasing, I’m going to have to park this during the week and start driving my car, which gets better gas mileage,” he said.

“I was worried about what would happen with gas prices here after the hurricanes,” said Spc. Nicholas Marquez, 54th Engineer Battalion in Bamberg.

“The prices are still pretty good right now, though; you just have to budget for it. I’m going downrange soon, so maybe I’ll miss the really high gas prices.”

Other customers have accepted that the prices are probably going to increase more before they drop significantly.

“Nobody likes it when gas prices go up because it straps your pocketbook, but if it’s the same everywhere else, you can’t really cry about it,” said Don Bunch, who works at the Military Clothing Sales store in Bamberg.

New gas prices

The new gas prices per gallon for Army and Air Force Exchange Service customers in Europe are as follows.


Unleaded — $2.715Super unleaded — $2.808Super plus unleaded — $2.906Diesel — $2.718The Netherlands

Super unleaded — $2.869Super plus unleaded — $3.115Diesel — $2.835United Kingdom

Super unleaded — $2.754Diesel — $2.664Prices for Turkey and Azores have not been set, according to AAFES officials.

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