Airlines to lift jet fuel charges
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-09-30 07:16

China's three major airlines will raise jet fuel charges on international flights from next week.

The surcharge increase, due to start around October 1, will vary from route to route depending on the destination and airline.

Travel agents believe the rise will increase the price of overseas tour packages after the Golden Week holiday, but do not expect it to hit their business.

Reports said the lift would not go into effect until October 1. But at some air ticket agents in Beijing the jet fuel surcharge has already been raised.

"The surcharge for each passenger on a round trip to Europe has been increased by 200 to 300 yuan (US$25-37) starting from today," said Beijing ticket agent He Hua.

According to He, the jet fuel charge for a round-trip ticket between Beijing and Moscow with Air China was 1,297 yuan (US$162) on Friday, an increase of 361 yuan (US$45) from the day before.

But the airline did not increase the surcharge on flights to Thai capital Bangkok.

China Eastern and China Southern have also decided to lift their jet fuel surcharges on international flights, as has the US Northwest Airlines on flights from Beijing to Tokyo.

Because of this, some travel agencies are predicting the price of overseas tour packages will increase after the Golden Week.

"The jet fuel surcharge on flights to Tokyo will increase by US$30-40, which is a factor we cannot overlook nowadays as the whole industry is seeing lower profit levels than before," said Lin Kang, a senior employee at the China International Travel Service.

Usually people have to pay at least 4,000 yuan (US$500) to travel to East or South Asia, and at least 10,000 yuan (US$1,250) to Europe and America.

Because of soaring oil prices, the civil aviation regulator has already raised the surcharge on domestic flights twice this year. The surcharge for every passenger who flies less than 800 kilometres is now 60 yuan (US7.5), double the previous 30 yuan (US$3.7). For longer flights the surcharge is 100 yuan (US$12.5), up from 60 yuan (US$7.5).

The surcharge for international flights is decided by the airlines themselves, not the regulator. But since most mainland airlines posted losses in the first half of this year, largely due to surging fuel prices, airlines are expected to use the new surcharges to boost profits at least a little bit.