Japan Airlines Corp. and All Nippon Airways Co. are considering raising airfares on domestic flights, possibly from the beginning of next year, due to soaring crude oil prices, airline officials said Thursday.

The margin of the airfare increase could be several percent, they said.

JAL expects the negative effects of surging crude oil prices will amount to 45 billion yen in the current fiscal year, while ANA projects a figure of 13 billion yen.

ANA President Yoji Ohashi has said the continued rise in crude oil prices to all-time high levels is forcing the airline to consider raising airfares.

JAL, however, needs approval from the Fair Trade Commission to raise airfares on domestic flights because it pledged in October 2002 to keep the fares unchanged for three years, at a time when its operations were integrated with those of Japan Air System Co.

JAL, which became Japan’s largest airline by its complete merger with JAS in April, has vowed to the antimonopoly watchdog that it will not raise airfares on domestic flights unless it faces rapid changes in the economic environment.

Meanwhile, Skymark Airlines Co. said Thursday it will lower its airfares on domestic flights in February to levels before its fare increases in September. The airline had raised its fares by 100 yen across the board due to surging crude oil prices.

Skymark said it can absorb the effects of high oil prices by cost-cutting and other measures.

Crude oil prices briefly topped $55.00 per barrel again Wednesday in New York, after touching a record high of $55.33 during after-hours online trading Sunday night.

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