Expert believes lower oil prices will eventually affect airfares

Honolulu International Airport

It may cost people less to drive lately, but travelers are still paying a high price to fly.

Even though fuel prices have plummeted in recent months, airfares have yet to follow.

The average cost to travel to the West Coast during the holidays is $500 to $750. The neighbor islands is $200.

“They’re pretty pricey if you don’t book at odd times,” said traveler Tim Stauffer.

“With the gas going down, it seems they would go down, but they haven’t,” said traveler Amy Griffith.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is calling for a federal investigation to find out why airlines are not adjusting prices to reflect the declining fuel prices.

But at least one aviation analyst says “it’s all a matter of time.”

Analyst Peter Forman said now is not the time for an investigation, because airlines will not lower fares during the busy holiday season.

He said carriers are making money now by keeping fares high, but that will change once oil prices creep back up.

“If fuel prices go up, generally the airlines get stuck with it because they’ve sold tickets at one fare and now they’re not making money on it, but they have to honor those tickets,” Forman said.

Experts also believe airfares aren’t dropping like they used to because the market isn’t as competitive, with fewer players in the industry.

But Forman believes prices will drop after the holiday season, as carriers try to fill up flights during the slower period. He also says if oil prices remain low for a bit longer, travelers could benefit.

“Some airline is going to take advantage of the lower cost to offer better fares,” Forman said.

He also believes if oil prices remain low, airlines could actually expand and add more flights so they can also profit.

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