Airlines seek approval to raise fuel surcharges Twelve airlines, including Hong Kong's top two carriers, have asked the Civil Aviation Department for permission to raise fuel surcharges on passenger flights to combat the escalating price of jet fuel. The group is among 15 carriers applying for an extension of the surcharge period, which expires at the end of the month. 'All these filings are being considered and we will inform the airlines of the outcome as soon as practicable after all the necessary information is received,' a department spokesman said. In May, the department allowed Cathay to raise its fuel surcharge 35 per cent on long-haul flights to US$19 per leg, and by 40 per cent on regional flights to US$7 per leg. The price for a barrel of jet kerosene traded in Singapore, the region's benchmark index, closed at US$58.25 on Friday, down 8.6 per cent from its mid-October high of US$63.80.Russell Barling Disagreements force delay in coal-price talks The central government has postponed the annual price negotiations between buyers and sellers of coal, amid reports of deep disagreements over projected prices for next year. Sources at China Coal Industry Development Research Centre, a state-backed think-tank, said the meeting might be put off from this month until next month, as the government needed more time to balance the interests of power generators and coal producers. UBS co-head of China research Joe Zhang Huaqiao, who was informed that the meeting had been delayed by its organiser, said coal producers' dissatisfaction with the proposed price increase for next year's one-year contracts was the main impediment. Tight supplies and congested transport links have pushed up coal prices more than 40 per cent this year.Eric Ng Vision grande to pay $183m for stake Vision Grande Group, a maker of cigarette packages and laminated paper, said yesterday it would buy a 35 per cent stake in World Grand Holdings for $183.75 million from Joy Benefit and Splendid China. The deal, conducted through its wholly owned arm Mega Vision Enterprises, also includes the purchase of World Grand's shareholders loan. World Grand's main asset is its 90 per cent stake in a Sino-foreign cigarette package printer in Yunnan, Kunming World Grand Colour Printing Company. 'This strategic co-operation will immediately contribute to our growth and expansion in the Kunming market,' said Vision Grande chairman Li Wei Bo. The two vendors have guaranteed that World Grand's net profit will be at least $105 million for next year and a combined $230 million for the two years to December 2006. Otherwise, they will compensate Vision Grande at five times the shortfall in profit attributable to its 35 per cent stake for the relevant year. The main board-listed company said it had paid an initial $10 million in cash for the deal.