More international airlines could pull out unless landing fees at Chek Lap Kok were cut, it was claimed yesterday. Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) general manager Per Moller Jensen described the cost of operating at the new airport as 'scary'. The airline will stop its five times a week service to Europe on March 1. Yesterday, the South China Morning Post revealed the SAS would pull out because of a slump in bookings and high operating costs. Five staff have been laid off, but most jobs - about another 20 - would be retained to run cargo operations. While Mr Jensen praised the new airport for its design and efficiency, he said: 'When you look at the cost of an operation into Hong Kong, passenger, freight or whatever, the charges at the airport are scary. 'It's a fantastic airport. I am very happy about it, it's well designed and in many ways an efficient airport - but it is bloody expensive. 'I think the Hong Kong Government should give some thought to how they can use it as a competitive tool in order to attract more business to Hong Kong.' Mr Jensen said Chek Lap Kok was one of the three most expensive airports to operate from, beaten only by Kansai and Narita in Japan. 'All airlines must be suffering, because yields, prices and the number of business-class travellers are all down.' Peter Kuan, sales manager for Garuda Indonesia, which slashed flights from 19 a week to seven early in the Asian financial crisis, said: 'It's the general feeling of airlines operating in Hong Kong that all costs have escalated, and these increases are very untimely.' Henry Ma, United Airlines general manager for Hong Kong, said: 'You've got to have a balance between the needs of the economy and the need for paying for the cost of the new airport.' Airport Authority spokesman Chris Donnolley said there were no immediate plans to reduce charges. 'A decision like that is not one that should be taken lightly. We have to weigh up our responsibilities to everyone, including the public. 'Of course we sympathise with the airlines but we can't get into the area of subsidising. We have to be sensible about this,' he said.