The price of oil may be falling, but aircraft passengers will not see any benefit in the shape of lower fuel surcharges. Cathay Pacific has defended its decision to maintain the ticket surcharge at HK$117 for short-haul passengers and HK$481 for long-haul flights, citing the high and volatile price of jet fuel. The Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department has approved an extension of passenger fuel surcharges for two months from today despite oil trading at US$62.91 a barrel at the close of trading on Friday, down from the record US$78.40 on July 14. A Cathay spokeswoman said the cost of jet fuel averaged US$85 a barrel for the first half of September. The airline says it has absorbed nearly half of the fuel cost increases. 'Fuel is the single-largest cost factor for the airline, accounting for some 30 per cent of the total operating cost. Cathay Pacific regrets the need to impose fuel surcharges on passengers, but it has no choice,' the spokeswoman said.