Avgas Supplies Steady

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While automotive gasoline has been in short supply in some areas, because of hurricane-related refinery closures, the supply of avgas seems secure. In fact, one of the major producers of avgas, the Exxon Mobile plant in Baton Rouge, is running at full capacity and ensuring an ample supply of fuel for the hundreds of airplanes staging out of the Baton Rouge airport, which is right next door. While supply doesn't seem to be a problem, paying for the fuel is getting more unpleasant every day. Like car gas, the price of avgas is skyrocketing in the aftermath of Katrina as oil markets respond to the tightened supply caused by the hurricane (never mind that the fuel being sold now was refined long before the storm hit). And there's speculation the corresponding hike in jet fuel prices will be the final straw for some cash-strapped airlines. Although the airlines are adding fuel surcharges to tickets being sold now, most of the flights are filled with people who bought tickets well in advance and didn't pay the extra charges. Meanwhile the International Air Transportation Association is calling on air traffic control providers to tighten up their operations so aircraft don't have to waste fuel. "Every drop of unneeded fuel burn and every cent of unnecessary expense is simply not tolerable," Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's CEO, said in a statement. He said for every dollar increase in the price of a barrel of oil, airline costs go up by about $1 billion.