The Associated Press October 13, 2010, 4:17PM ET

US airlines pay 9 percent more for fuel in August

U.S. airlines paid an average of 9 percent more per gallon for fuel in August than a year earlier, the government said Wednesday.

The Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics said U.S. airlines with scheduled service paid an average of $2.22 per gallon in August. That compares with an average price of $2.21 in July, and $2.02 in August of 2009.

Airlines often enter into financial bets called "hedges" which lock in the price of fuel. So some airlines could pay more or less than a competitor because of those contracts. Fuel is usually an airline's biggest expense next to labor.

So far this year, airlines are paying 22.5 percent more per gallon for fuel than in the first 8 months of 2009. Last year, the average price per gallon was $1.89 -- a far cry from the 2008, when the average shot up to $3.06 per gallon. The most airlines have paid per gallon for fuel -- $3.82 -- was in July of 2008 when oil hit an all-time high of $147 per barrel.

A decade ago, airlines paid an average of 80 cents per gallon.

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