WASHINGTON (AP) -- With jet fuel prices soaring in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, U.S. airlines have asked Congress and the White House for $600 million (euro483 million) in tax relief.
Commercial airlines, which have been battered, and in some cases bankrupted, by high energy costs are seeking a one-year reprieve from the 4.3-cents-per-gallon (1.13-cents-per-liter) federal tax on jet fuel.
''We've discussed it with the Department of Transportation and folks on the Hill,'' said Jack Evans, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a Washington-based trade group. ''I think, so far, people have been receptive.''
The group's president, James May, will formally present the proposal at a Senate hearing scheduled for next Wednesday, Evans said.
U.S. airlines have lost more than $30 billion (euro24 billion) over the past four years, partly because of competition from low-cost carriers and the economic downturn, but also because of high energy costs.
The average spot price of jet fuel is now about $2.12 a gallon (56 cents a liter) in New York, up from $1.27 (33 cents) a year ago. Prices have been rising all year, but they took a big jump after Katrina, which shut down pipelines and refineries and caused supplies to tighten.
Jet fuel prices have risen nearly 20 percent this week following Hurricane Katrina's devastation along the Gulf Coast .
The carrier said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that its cash had fallen to $1.7 billion as of Wednesday, down from $2.1 billion on June 30.
Northwest's pretax losses, the highest in its history, explain the reason behind filing for Chapter 11.