Japan Airlines

Two airlines seek return of surcharge as cost of fuel rises

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2009, 12:00am

Two major airlines that waived their fuel surcharges in July are seeking to impose the tariff again from next month in the light of rising prices for jet fuel.

All Nippon Airways filed a request to the Civil Aviation Department yesterday, while Japan Airlines was expected to do so this week. Both airlines posted the news on their websites.

Cathay Pacific, Nepal Airlines and Singapore Airlines also sought the department's approval yesterday to extend the surcharge for another two months to November 30.

All carriers flying to and from Hong Kong must notify the department of any surcharge change every two months. The current levy expires next Wednesday.

A review at the end of July approved maximum surcharges of HK$69 per short-haul flight and HK$318 on long-haul flights. Both ANA and JAL charged HK$39 per trip before they stopped imposing the surcharge in July.

A spokesman for the department said a decision on airlines' requests was to be made this week, taking into account aviation fuel price changes, carriers' arguments, and other relevant factors, such as charges levied by other airlines.

'The department is also considering granting only one-month approval to requests so that reviews are conducted more frequently,' the spokesman said.

Both ANA and JAL explain on their websites that their applications were made because of an increase in the price of Singapore kerosene - a type of jet fuel.

They say the tariff was waived in July when the average price of jet fuel fell below US$60 per barrel, to US$55.08, between February and April this year. But, because the average fuel price climbed to US$71.41 per barrel between May and July this year, they wanted to charge the surcharge again.

Other carriers that operate flights between Hong Kong and Japan, including Cathay and Dragonair, continued to charge the levy.

The tariff was first imposed by carriers in mid-2004 when jet fuel was US$43.21 per barrel.

Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents chairman Michael Wu Siu-ieng said: 'As long as the levy level is set reasonably, passengers will not mind paying it.'