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Wed 20 Aug 2008 04:51 PM

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Big guns in pledge on air travel costs

Emirates and Qatar Airways vow not to follow US counterparts in charging extra for pillows, coffee, water.

Two of the leading airlines in the Gulf have given reassurances to passengers that they have no plans to follow some US carriers in introducing ancillary charges on flights.

Rises in fuel costs has led to some American airlines to begin charging for previously free in-flight services, with passengers having to pay for everything from pillows and blankets to tea, coffee and water and even for checking in second items of luggage.

But both Emirates airline and Qatar Airways said on Wednesday as full service airlines, passengers would continue to enjoy their present services for free.

"Emirates is a full service airline which prides itself on giving travellers a memorable travelling experience,” a spokesman for Emirates said. “We have no plans to impose any in-flight ancillary charges."

A spokesman for Qatar Airways said: “We run a full service airline and our mantra is to provide the best level of service in the air. We are a premium airline and that is reflected in the level of service we provide and this is something that is not on our radar.”

But neither airline has ruled out increasing ticket prices in the face of high fuel costs.

The Qatar spokesman added: “Our CEO (Akbar Al Baker) has gone on record as saying if oil prices go up then it will be passed on to consumers.”

Although oil prices have now dropped back to $115 a barrel, they are still nearly 58 percent higher than two years ago.

US airline JetBlue earned $40 million in the second quarter by charging extra for seats with more legroom and charging $7 for a pillow and blanket set on flights lasting two hours or more. Meanwhile, United says it expects to collect $275 million this year from charges for baggage.

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