CHINA / National
Airport construction fee to stay until '10By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-02 06:26
China's controversial airport construction fee will continue to be collected for at least four more years, the Beijing-based China Financial and Economic News reported on Friday.
The newspaper, quoting sources from the Ministry of Finance, said the State Council had approved a proposal to continue collecting the fee till 2010. At the same time, the State Council also reportedly approved the continued collection of a tourism development fee until 2010.
China introduced the airport construction fee in 1992. Currently, domestic travellers pay 50 yuan (US$6.25) for a flight, but only have to hand over 10 yuan (US$1.25) at branch airports.
International travellers pay 90 yuan (US$8.75) 70 yuan (US$8.75) for the airport construction fee and 20 yuan (US$2.5) to the tourism development fund.
The tourism development fund is collected from all passengers who take overseas flights. The fee, collection of which began in 1991, is reportedly used to promote tourism in China, cover administrative costs and develop new tourist attractions.
Between 1992 and 2005, the government collected more than 29 billion yuan (US$3.6 billion) in airport construction fees, according to official statistics.
The government's decision to allow collection of the fee to continue until 2010 has met with opposition on online forums. Meanwhile, many people doubt whether the huge amount of money raised from the fee has really been spent on airport construction and expansion.
CAAC said in an earlier statement on its website that the funds raised from the fee had been handed over to the central treasury, which then allocated part of this to airports for their modernization and operation, while earmarking the remainder for approved airport construction projects.
So far, the fee has been used to build 42 new airports, bringing the country's total to 142 by 2005. All airports in capital cities and popular tourist destinations have either been upgraded or expanded.
In addition, China will build 50 more civil airports by 2010, according to CAAC Deputy Director Gao Hongfeng.