Owing to record nominal fuel prices, the July-September period was going to be painful for US carriers well before Mother Nature decided to visit her fury on the refinery-rich Gulf Coast. According to the Air Transport Assn., which cited data from the US Energy Information Administration, the spot price of West Texas Intermediate reached $61 a barrel on Aug. 1 while the differential between crude oil and jet fuel prices (the crack spread) pushed the all-in cost to airlines to around $74 a ...

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