Travel

Record Gas Prices Affect Summer Plane and Car Trips for Virginians

RICHMOND, Virginia. (WRIC) — Virginians looking to travel this summer are facing the impact of record gas prices on flights and road trips.

An April poll by AAA Travel found that 32% of Commonwealth residents surveyed said they planned to travel more this summer than they did last summer. This comes despite the nationwide average price per gallon of regular gasoline hitting $5 on Thursday, the highest ever.

An AAA survey found that more than 40% of Virginians said gas prices weren’t even considered when planning their trips. But nearly 45% said they make fewer trips or take shorter trips due to low prices.

“We are not seeing a significant decrease in the number of people behind the wheel,” said AAA’s Ragina Ali. “We think that people may be adjusting their driving behavior to some extent.”

Of the nearly 25% of Virginians who said they would stay at home or were unsure about summer travel plans at the time, nearly half cited gas prices as the most important factor in their decision, according to a press release.

“The results of this new AAA Travel survey show that concerns about COVID have drastically decreased, with the majority of Virginians planning to leave despite gas prices,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Morgan Dean. “While domestic travel will predominate, it is interesting to note the number of people planning to travel abroad. We haven’t seen this since 2019.”

Photo: Getty Images

For longer journeys, however, residents will have to factor in the rising fuel costs that airlines are also facing.

“We raised the rates. Fares would be much cheaper were it not for fuel, as they are today,” said Breeze Airways CEO David Nieleman. “If the price of fuel has doubled, then we should charge about $5 per flight hour. So if you’re flying out of San Francisco and it’s a five-hour flight, we should get at least $25 to $40 one way to cover the cost of fuel.”

This is one of the reasons why airlines such as Breeze have said they are looking for more economical aircraft options.

“The A220, being a simple design, incorporates a lot of new technologies. All of these technologies help to significantly reduce aircraft operating costs,” said Matthew Sacks, vice president of marketing for Airbus North America Airline. “For example, it is 40% lightweight material. […which] can burn less fuel.

Breeze Airways is just one of eight major carriers flying out of Richmond International Airport (RIC).

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, which also provides service to and from RIC, said the company has fuel hedging to help…

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