Thu, Jun 03, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Air carriers seeking approval for surcharges

PASSING ON COSTS The government is expected to decide later this week whether to allow carriers flying international routes from Taiwan to introduce fuel surcharges

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Air travelers may have to pay more for international flights starting later this week if the government approves applications from local carriers to impose fuel surcharges in response to rocketing oil prices, a government official said yesterday.

Last week, the nation's two largest air carriers -- China Airlines Co (華航) and EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) -- filed applications to the Civil Aeronautics Administration to charge US$7 more for each international air ticket, public relations officials from the two companies said yesterday.

Domestic carrier TransAsia Airways (復興航空) filed a similar application on Tuesday for its Taipei-Macau route, said Janet So (湛華生), TransAsia's public relations manager.

The aviation authority will likely rule on the applications soon, an official said yesterday.

"We will make a decision on whether to approve the application or not this week, as carriers said they can barely hold on as prices of jet fuel keep rising," Chen Tien-shih (陳天識), deputy director of the administration's Air Transport Division, told the Taipei Times yesterday.

Several foreign carriers such as Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair also applied for permission to add fuel surcharges on flights into and out of Taiwan, Chen said.

The administration is pondering if it's fair for consumers to take on the additional cost, and if the amount of the surcharge is reasonable, given that consumers usually have to pay more during the peak summer season, Chen said.

The administration will also discuss when to suspend the surcharge, he added.

Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油) is expected to announce price hikes for its wholesale oil products following an OPEC meeting in Beirut. The state-run refiner said last month that it planned to raise wholesale gasoline and diesel prices by as much as NT$1 per liter.

Chinese Petroleum and Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化) have raised wholesale oil prices three times this year. In Taiwan, oil prices were 2.16 percent higher last month than at the beginning of the year, and 9.98 percent up from the same period last year.

Higher oil prices are also hurting land transportation operators.

Feng Pao-lo (馮保羅), manager of long-distance bus operator Kuo-kuang Motor Transport Co (國光客運), said the company has proposed to the Directorate General of Highways to cut or cancel discounts offered buses running during off-peak hours. Feng said the company loses NT$3.5 million per month for each NT$1 rise in pump prices.

Taxi drivers also plan to charge more. Chen Teng (陳燈), chairman of the Taipei City Taxi Transportation Federation (台北市計程車公會), told reporters earlier this week that it may propose to charge an additional NT$10 per trip if pump prices rise NT$1 per liter. The charge will be revoked once oil prices drop, he said.

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