TAXPAYERS are likely to be billed for the hotel costs of travellers whose flight was delayed by a diplomatic stand-off over deported Vietnamese last week. They will also have to pay any penalties incurred because the Royal Brunei Boeing 767 was on the ground at Hanoi airport for eight hours longer than planned. The plane, returning 85 Vietnamese on October 17, was on the runway for so long that the return trip from Brunei to Singapore it had been due to make was cancelled. The delay was caused when boat people refused to leave the plane. Hong Kong security officers ran into problems because Vietnamese officials refused to allow force to be used on their soil. The plane cost almost HK$1 million to charter. There was an eight-hour ground delay at a cost of US$8,000 (HK$61,700) per hour. Passengers in Brunei were placed on a later flight. Royal Brunei confirmed its administrators were also forced to offer accommodation at a luxury Singapore hotel to 63 passengers who were to travel to Brunei. The problem-plagued flight was followed by another flight on Tuesday which experienced similar, though shorter, delays. The delays came despite a meeting of British and Vietnamese officials in Hanoi after the October 17 stand-off. Observers said Vietnamese immigration officials on the tarmac on Tuesday repeatedly changed their minds as to the terms under which they would take people off the flight if they resisted. Two Vietnamese men were carried off the flight. It is understood one of them asked to be carried off because of concerns he held that he would face recriminations from fellow returnees if he 'gave up'. Hong Kong and Britain split the costs 50/50 on Vietnamese forced repatriation flights. The cost of last week's flight per returnee is about HK$17,000 if penalty costs are added to the charter cost. This does not take into account the additional costs associated with providing escorts, medical staff, Immigration officers and Security Branch officers. The next deportation flight is not expected to leave until December and it is unlikely that Royal Brunei will continue to consider charter requests from Hong Kong for Vietnamese deportations. This will leave few options for Hong Kong. Other airlines have already expressed an unwillingness to provide their services because of the negative publicity. A Hong Kong government spokesman last night said Royal Brunei Airlines had not advised of any penalty charges for the late return of aircraft. Penalty charges have never been imposed. The spokesman also denied there was a problem on the tarmac at Hanoi on Tuesday's return flight. 'There was co-operation on both sides,' he said.