Hong Kong airport to increase security fee levied on every departing passenger
Bosses say money will pay for upgrading hub’s CCTV and baggage screening systems, as well as increasing manpower
Every passenger leaving Hong Kong’s airport will pay an extra HK$5 in security fees from October, it was announced on Monday.
The charge at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) will increase from HK$45 to HK$50. The fee – collected by airlines – will rise again in 2021, to HK$55.
HKIA’s operator, the Airport Authority, said the extra money would pay for things such as upgrading the airport’s CCTV and baggage screening systems, introducing new equipment with biometric technology and increasing manpower.
Based on the estimated number of departing passengers – half of the 74 million travellers both arriving at and departing HKIA in the year to last June – the increase could net the authority an extra HK$180 million a year.
The authority pocketed HK$1.65 billion from security charges in the financial year to March, 85 per cent more than it did five years ago.
Last month, airport chiefs reported record profits of HK$11.48 billion on the back of a spike in traveller numbers, higher fees levied on airlines and bigger advertising and retail revenue.
In a press release, the authority said the higher charge would only kick in for tickets issued on or after October 1.
Since 2016 travellers have paid an airport construction fee ranging from HK$70 to HK$180, to fund the under-construction third runway.
That was on course to raise billions more than the HK$26 billion initially projected.
And earlier this month, the authority introduced a levy of HK$1.32 for each piece of baggage unloaded from planes onto conveyor belts, a move that could cost passenger airlines HK$40 million or more a year.
Hong Kong Cabin Crew Federation chairwoman Dora Lai Yuk-sim said she did not see why security charges had to go up.
“What’s the justification for the raise if the Airport Authority has no intention of improving its security and no intention to stop succumbing to pressure from the rich and powerful?” Lai said.
She was referring to an incident more than two years ago, when the authority allowed staff to take a bag to then city leader Leung Chun-ying’s daughter in a restricted area. Last month, the High Court began hearing a legal challenge to that decision.
In April this year, the authority changed the screening process rule, saying that a passenger only needed to be present when a suspicious item was checked for the second time.
But Dr Law Cheung-kwok, head of the Aviation Policy and Research Centre at Chinese University, called on the authority – a statutory body wholly owned by the government – to reveal more details of its investments in security to the public, with dollar amounts, and submit the information to the Legislative Council.
“Everyone would agree HKIA needs to upgrade its security standards to international levels, but how much will be spent, on what and why and when, are questions that should be answered by the Airport Authority satisfactorily before making the decision public to increase charges,” he said.