Airgas Inc. has announced that as of 1st August 2008, or as contracts permit, its operating units will increase prices on gases and equipment, to be implemented as a result of rising operator and material costs.

Prices will increase, on average, by around 15-20% for the company’s range of gas products and equipment rental fees. Prices are to increase 20% for bulk and cylinder acetylene, argon, and hydrogen, around 15% for bulk and cylinder oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, helium, and specialty gases, and 15% for cylinder and bulk equipment rental fees.

The company has noted that prices will also increase for hard-goods and safety supplies, and delivery and other service charges.

The actions are being implemented in response to increases in product costs from suppliers and rising operating costs at Airgas plants and distribution facilities, driven by higher raw material, energy, electricity, and labour costs. Rising metal prices are also driving up costs for cylinders, bulk tanks, gas handling plants, and equipment.

“Costs continue to escalate rapidly, while strong demand is sustained across our customer base,” said Airgas Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter McCausland.

“Airgas associates are working hard every day to enhance our supply chain and meet our customers' needs. We will continue to invest in our infrastructure so we can meet the demands of our customers, improve operating efficiencies, and fulfil the safety and security requirements of our industry.”

Regretfully, Airgas has also had to announce the sudden passing of Director and Audit Committee Chairman William O. Albertini on 28th June 2008. Albertini had been a member of the Airgas Board of Directors since 2003.

McCausland expressed his condolences and gratitude for Albertini’s many years of hard work at Airgas and commented, “Bill was an outstanding individual, and his contributions to our Board and Audit Committee will be genuinely missed.”

“The Airgas family extends sincere condolences to Bill’s wife, Kate, and the rest of their family and friends. We recognise his distinguished career with honour and warm memories.”