Motorists at Europe bases perplexed by AAFES gas prices
Stars and Stripes August 30, 2006
STUTTGART, Germany — Motorists on Tuesday were either perplexed by the rising prices of gas purchased through the exchange system, or resigned that they couldn’t do anything about it.
“I don’t feel like feel we should pay more than the stateside average,” said Esther Turner, an Army spouse and mother of two, after the Army and Air Force Exchange Service raised prices on the fuel it sells at U.S. installations.
“They (AAFES) always seem a day late and dollar short,” Turner said. “They’re always quick to hike the price, and slow to lower it.”
“There’s not much of a choice, so I just deal with it,” said Wanda Solsberry, a teacher’s aide.
AAFES announced on Monday that it was raising its gas prices for September, just one day after a national survey showed stateside prices had dropped more than 15 cents per gallon in the previous two weeks.
September prices in Germany are $3.157 per gallon for regular unleaded (up 3.8 cents per gallon from August), $3.26 for super unleaded (up 4 cents), $3.36 for super-plus unleaded (up 4.7 cents) and $3.199 for diesel (up 12.2 cents).
But according to the Lundberg Survey, which tracks prices at 7,000 gas stations across the U.S., prices fell an average of 15.4 cents per gallon from Aug. 11 to Aug. 25. Regular unleaded fell from $3.03 per gallon to $2.87, according to the survey.
AAFES, however, sets its gas prices on stateside price averages from the previous four or five weeks, as calculated by the Department of Energy, plus additional costs, according to Judd Anstey, an AAFES spokesman.
Those costs include administering the coupon program, in which motorists can buy coupons to use at selected filling stations off U.S. installations, plus labor, depreciation and miscellaneous costs, Anstey said.
According to AAFES’ pricing formula, gas prices in Europe rose in September because the decline in stateside prices in the second half of August was outpaced by increased prices from earlier in the month.
Anstey said that AAFES reviewed its pricing policy regularly, but said the current method helps customers in Europe avoid day-to-day fluctuations.
Spc. Eric Moretti of 52nd Signal Battalion said he felt AAFES is typically slow to react to changes in stateside prices.
“But just because the price goes down in the States, it doesn’t mean it’s going to stay down,” Moretti said.
Moretti added the price increase wouldn’t make much difference to him; he’ll be moving back to the States in a few weeks.
“It’s still better than out on the economy,” said Steven Smith, who works at the Burger King on Patch Barracks. “For me, it isn’t that bad.”
Gas prices in Germany and elsewhere in Europe are nearly double the price of fuel purchased on U.S. installations or by using coupons.
Ann Warnock-Beaver, whose husband serves in the Navy, said she believed higher prices might cut down how much traveling people do in Europe.
“There’s nothing we can do about it unless we have alternative fuel sources,” said Ellen Nightingale, wife of a civilian contractor, as she filled up her Mini Cooper.
Nightingale said her family’s next car is going to be either a hybrid, which is powered by both gas and electricity, or something that runs on alternative fuels such as that made from corn.
September gas prices