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Construction fees included in airfares
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-01 00:00

Carriers will start collecting airport construction fees, sparing passengers long line-ups by including it in the cost of tickets.

Starting today, the airport construction fee will be listed separately in a single item on the ticket, said an official with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

People who booked tickets before August or bought the tickets in August without paying the fee, will be exempt, according a detailed implementation regulation issued by the administration.

The change is mostly administrative, since the amount of the fee remains unchanged, officials said.

The fee is 90 yuan for international flights, 50 yuan for domestic flights and 10 yuan for branch flight routes.

Meanwhile, passengers holding diplomatic passports on International, Hong Kong or Macao flights or children up to the age of 12 are exempt.

The new system should save time for the passengers during check-in, said an official with China Southern Airlines. People will no longer have to wait in long lines during peak times to pay the construction fee.

Still, many passengers doubt the value of the fee.

"The levy on airport construction should be annulled because all the airports are public accommodations and were built with the money paid by tax payers," said passenger Wang You.

Since March 1, 1992, China has started to collect airport construction fees to maintain and upgrade the airport fences, fire control, safety inspection and other facilities, officials said.

The collection change is the CAAC's latest effort following a reform that allowed the market to play a bigger role in determining the cost of airfares, analysts said.

Drafted by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the CAAC, a regulation on the pricing of flight tickets took effect on April 20, allowing for more fluctuations in pricing depending on market demand.

Airlines will be entitled to decide prices based on the base price -- which remains at 0.75 yuan (9 US cents) for each person per kilometre.

For short air routes between neighboring provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, the price of air tickets would be allowed to fluctuate freely, without regulations.

For other routes, a 25 per cent up or 45 per cent down fluctuation on the basis of the official ticket price would be permitted.

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