05/25/06 — Gas prices up for holiday weekend

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Gas prices up for holiday weekend

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 25, 2006 1:49 PM

Although gas prices are at their highest level ever for a Memorial Day holiday for the second straight year, but even at 70 cents more than last year, they are still lower than they've been in the past month.

Ron Planting with the American Petroleum Institute in Washington said this morning the nation has had a huge increase in gasoline imports in the past few weeks, which could be responsible for gas prices coming down recently.

"We've got record gasoline imports," he said. "With the higher prices in the U.S., the people in Europe said, 'Gosh. This is a great place to send gasoline.' The market is at work."

David E. Parsons in the AAA office in Charlotte said motor travel in the Carolinas is expected to increase 1.4 percent from last year, with an estimated 807,500 motorists on North Carolina highways. Air travel, despite a 10 percent increase in air fares, is expected to increase 2.9 percent from Memorial Day 2005. More than 104,000 North Carolinians are expected to fly this holiday, he said.

"Fewer seats and higher fuel costs have resulted in an increase in ticket prices," said Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "Regardless of higher airfares, travelers can expect full planes and busy airports for Memorial Day weekend and throughout the remainder of the summer."

Those forced to fill up in North Carolina will find gas prices averaging $2.78 a gallon. In addition to higher air fares and higher gas prices, hotel rates will be up about five percent from a year ago, according to AAA's Leisure Travel Index.

The greatest increase will be seen in rental car rates -- up about 19 percent from a year ago, adding almost $6 to the average daily car rental rate, the highest average rate for Memorial Day weekend in the past six years.

AAA estimates that 37.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this weekend. That's a 0.9 percent increase from last year. About 31.4 million travelers plan to go by car, while another 4.3 million will go via airplane.