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It has become a familiar refrain, one that sounds as shrill as the last high-octane note.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service announced Friday that the price of fuel at its pumps or purchased with its coupons would increase in June by about 30 cents a gallon. The change applies to the three different grades of unleaded gas AAFES sells in Europe.

Diesel fuel is going up, too, but only by 20 cents.

This latest price adjustment marks the first time a gallon of unleaded AAFES gas will top $3.

In Italy, there was good news and bad news on the price of gasoline purchased with tax-free coupons issued by the Navy.

The good news is that unleaded gas isn’t at $3 a gallon, yet. The bad news is that it only has a penny to go.

With a 100-liter book of unleaded gas coupons rising from $70 to $79, motorist will pay an additional 34 cents a gallon, going from $2.65 to just under $2.99. For comparison sake, the price change from April to May amounted to only 6 cents a gallon.

“The next car I get will be higher on miles per gallon,” Army Sgt. Jose Garcia said as he filled up his Audi sedan at an AAFES gas station in Darmstadt, Germany. “It’ll be a compact car. That’s for damn sure.”

What’s also sure is that over the next few days, as May gives way to June, AAFES gas coupons will be a hot commodity. AAFES customers will have until close of business Wednesday to buy gas coupons at May’s rates.

“We’re encouraging people to get those coupons,” said Debbie Byerly, a spokeswoman for AAFES-Europe. “It’s definitely worth their while.”

AAFES’ gas prices are going up because of the cost of fuel in the United States. The June price schedule reflects the Department of Energy’s average price for all grades of gasoline and diesel in the United States over a four-week period, ending May 22.

Citing Department of Energy figures, an AAFES news release said the average price for regular unleaded fuel back home is nearly 76 cents higher than it was a year ago.

In June 2005, a gallon of regular unleaded gas cost an AAFES customer in Germany about $2.36. On Thursday, when the new prices take effect, that same gallon of petrol will cost $3.08.

Like motorists north of the Alps, June’s price for unleaded gas in Italy will be the highest ever, overtaking the $78 price tag for 100 liters in October and November of last year.

There’s no real good news for motorists in Italy who use diesel fuel either. The price of a gallon of diesel is slated to rise from $2.95 a gallon to almost $3.22 a gallon.

“They’ve got to come up with some alternative energy sources to make up for gas,” Spc. Charlie James said as he loaded his steel gray 2001 BMW with super-plus unleaded gas in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Friday.

But, he added, the prices are “still less here than what it is in California, where I’m from.”

James said he and his wife, Breanne, now use a bit more discretion whenever they climb behind the wheel. They just don’t ride around as much as they used to.

He also would like for AAFES to spell out in greater detail how it accounts for the prices it charges.

“Where is the money going?” he asked. “They have operational costs. I understand that. But sometimes it (the increase) seems a little steep.”

Stars and Stripes reporter Jason Chudy in Naples, Italy, contributed to this report.

Gas up

Here is the price of a gallon of fuel in the countries served by AAFES:

Germany

Unleaded — $3.080

Super unleaded — $3.186

Super-plus unleaded — $3.287

Diesel — $3.066

Netherlands

Super unleaded — $3.186

Super-plus unleaded — $3.300

Diesel — $3.066

United Kingdom

Super unleaded — $3.135

Diesel — $3.016

Azores

Super unleaded — $3.243

Turkey

Super unleaded — $3.264

Diesel — $3.020

View current AAFES Europe gas prices

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