Record high gasoline prices not expected to impact holiday travelBy SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Fuel prices have continued to increase because of Hurricane Isaac, and the national average price for gasoline is now the highest it has ever been for Labor Day weekend.
Prices aren’t expected to affect Labor Day travel, however, according to Jessica Brady of AAA.
Travelers may compensate for higher fuel costs by spending less money at their destinations, Brady said, and weather might put a damper on plans to travel to the Gulf Coast.
“There could be a more regional impact,” Brady said.
AAA released its holiday travel predictions on Aug. 21, saying 33 million Americans would travel at least 50 miles from home, an increase of 2.9 percent from last year. Sixty-six percent of intended travelers told AAA that their current financial situation would not negatively impact their travel plans.
“Although overall economic growth continues to move at a sluggish pace, it is encouraging to see so many Americans value and prioritize travel,” said Brent Hubele, vice president of AAA Travel. “The health of the travel and tourism industry is a vital contributor to our economic recovery and supports almost eight million jobs across the nation.”
The Georgia Department of Transportation announced Thursday it will suspend construction-related lane closures in west central Georgia for the holiday weekend.
Meteorologists predict pop-up showers – not torrential, hurricane-related rains – throughout Labor Day weekend. Saturday’s forecast is for a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms with partly sunny skies and a high near 89. Sunday’s forecast is for a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, partly sunny skies, and a high near 89. A 30 percent chance of showers is forecast for Monday, with partly sunny skies and a high near 89.
The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline rose from $3.804 on Wednesday to $3.826 on Thursday, according to AAA’s Fuelgaugereport.com website.
Prices in Georgia jumped more than four cents a gallon overnight, from $3.802 to $3.846. That’s up from $3.662 a week ago. In Newnan, however, there wasn’t a lot of change. The cheapest gas in town available to all customers was $3.79 at two stations, according to Gasbuddy.com . Many stations were offering regular unleaded for $3.89; $3.94 was also a common price.
Prices are expected to continue climbing for the next few days.
“I think we’ll probably see prices to continue to increase through the holiday weekend,” Brady said.
The fact that it is a holiday weekend – and the traditional end of the summer travel season – has little to do with increased fuel costs, Brady said.
Hurricane Isaac “has a big part to play,” she said, but other domestic supply disruptions have occurred over the past month and a half, including the Aug. 25 explosion at Venezuela’s largest oil refinery.
“They do provide supply to us, and they are a member of OPEC,” Brady said, adding the sharp rise in gasoline prices can be solely attributed to the hurricane.
“It’s unfortunate that we see prices like this before it’s even known if there will be any damage to the Gulf Coasts’s oil and gas infrastructure,” said. “The mere threat of a storm causes prices to go up, and unfortunately, speculation does have a lot to do with it, as usual.”
Gas prices should start falling if little or no damage occurs.
“After Labor Day, we tend to see prices drop anyway,” Brady said