Have you ever heard of Transaero? This mammoth Russian airline apparently suspended flights to Hong Kong recently. According to the Board of Airline Representatives, Transaero didn't like the landing charges at Chek Lap Kok and it is one reason the board is pleading for a reduction of those charges. Please, Transaero, come back. We love you. You mean so much to us. But there are bigger reasons that the board wants this favour from the Government. Would you believe an annual figure of $91 million in losses to the airport per suspended weekly flight or a suggested annual cost to the economy of $11.7 billion from all flights that might have been made over the past 10 months, but were not? You wouldn't? Well, neither would your correspondent. These figures are so stretched that, much as he hesitates to use plain terms, the word nonsense just pops out. There. Couldn't help it. How did that come off the keyboard? To start with, while alleging that 82 flights per week have been lost since the new airport opened, the board admits that the number of flights in and out of Hong Kong is higher today than last year. So that figure of 82 must represent the discovery of a new branch of mathematics. Hypothetical numerology let's call it. Pick a figure, any figure. Now subtract reality from it. Whew, what a shortfall! But something else is odd here. If those landing charges at Chek Lap Kok so deterred visitors from coming, how is that in July last year, the month that the airport opened, air passenger arrivals suddenly shot upwards and have been rising ever since? It was minus 9.9 per cent year over year last June. In July it was plus 19.4 per cent. The world likes Chek Lap Kok just fine apparently. The airlines should have known. Now let's look at that alleged $91 million shortfall to the airport. It comes, says the board's submission to Legco's economic services panel, from calculating a loss of $250,000 for each Boeing 747 that did not fly in. We have trouble with the maths again. The board broke down these losses into separate categories in an appendix to the submission and there the total figure is given as $244,168. An example of those items is $110,000 in fuelling. Something appears to be missing here. These figures imply that Chek Lap Kok gets fuel for free, a straight gift from Saudi Arabia, and then sells it at market price to the airlines. How nice of the Saudis. But perhaps the board should hire someone who understands subtraction. Gross revenue is not the final story. You take the revenue minus the cost. Simple isn't it? Anyone want a calculator? Then we get that loss to the economy of $11.7 billion a year, which the board at least had the grace to preface with the words 'if this calculation is correct'. Total tourism revenue last year, according to government figures, was $55.2 billion. We are to believe, apparently, that the loss of tourism revenue only from some flights, which might have come in but did not, amounts to more than 20 per cent of total tourism receipts. Astounding. The simple fact is that visitor arrivals fell everywhere across the region because of the financial crisis, but are picking up rapidly again and we still attract more visitors than any other Asian country. Airport charges are not to blame. Don't try to pull the wool over our eyes, gentlemen. It was best and calmly put into perspective by the Airport Authority's finance and commercial director, Raymond Lai Wing-cheong. 'I can't see a direct correlation between lowering the charges and bringing in more visitors to Hong Kong,' he said. 'We can't use taxpayers' money to subsidise the airline industry.' Exactly. Spot on. Stick to your guns, Mr Lai.