Airline ticket prices expected to take off for the holiday season because of fuel costs

West Lafayette, Indiana - High crude oil prices could fuel a jump in ticket prices for people flying during the holiday travel season, according to a Purdue aviation professor.

Yi Gao, an associate professor in aviation management for the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, said crude oil prices continue an upward trend in recent months, remaining above $70 per barrel as of mid-October. The result could have a ripple effect for airline ticket prices.

“In the last two or three years, airfare has been a little more affordable because fuel was cheaper,” he said. “But now fuel is starting to rise up little bit and airlines will use that to justify a price increase.”

 The result already has been felt with some international airlines, which have started to use fuel surcharges again to compensate for the losses.

“It’s pretty difficult to forecast exactly when we will start to see the impact,” said Gao, who has studied aviation management in the U.S., Australia and China. “But it’s is possible that airfare for the incoming holiday season will be more expensive than last few years.”

Gao said travelers planning to fly during the holidays should make their plans quickly to avoid rising prices from the fuel costs.

He said fliers also should confirm the checked-in luggage allowance and fare class before booking to avoid unexpected charges.

Labor and fuel are the two biggest expenses airlines face each year in terms of cost. And while labor is relatively stable, fuel is not.

“Fuel can increase from $40 to $80 per barrel within a year or drop that much in the same amount of time,” Gao said.