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All Nippon Airways Co. President Yoji Ohashi said Wednesday the carrier is thinking about hiking domestic airfares to cope with soaring oil prices.

“We don’t expect fuel prices to return to the same levels as before,” Ohashi told reporters in Tokyo.

Ohashi did not clarify when and by how much the firm will increase fares.

Both ANA and Japan Airlines Corp. have been hit hard by climbing fuel prices. In July, ANA said rising oil prices would cost the firm 9 billion yen in the current fiscal year to March. JAL said it would cause a 30 billion yen drop in operating profit for the full fiscal year.

But the two giant carriers have been hesitant to raise domestic fares, saying they would try to cover the shortfall by cutting costs and raising international airfares by 5 percent.

The last rise in domestic fares was in July 2003, when the war in Iraq and the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome forced the two carriers to cover the losses from international flight operations.

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