The government is mulling raising the airport service charge that travelers leaving the country pay by about 67 percent and dividing the money more evenly between the Tourism Bureau and the nation’s international airports.
The current airport service charge is NT$300 (US$10) per person. According to the Act of the Department of Tourism (觀光發展條例), 60 percent of the revenue earned is used to develop tourism and 40 percent is used to expand and revamp airport facilities.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ (MOTC) Department of Navigation and Aviation said it has proposed raising the charge to NT$500 per person and dividing the revenue equally between the bureau and airports serving outbound passengers, including Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), Kaohisung International Airport and Taichung Airport.
Paul Yang (楊博文), a senior engineer with the department, said the airport service charge had not been adjusted since 1987.
“Aside from expanding current facilities at airports, the government is investing in some major projects, including building Terminal Three and a third runway at the Taoyuan airport as well as other facilities for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Project,” Yang said.
“While the government will appropriate funds for these projects, the airport company is expected to raise part of the money on its own,” he said.
The department said it had taken into consideration the potential public response to raising the charge, adding that NT$500 is still less than the fees set by other top-tier airports around the world.
“The plans to build Terminal Three, the third runway and other facilities that are part of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Project require a budget of approximately NT$249.5 billion. Raising the service charge could help fund those constructions,” Yang said.
The proposal to increase the service charge received preliminary approval from the Executive Yuan’s Tourism Development and Promotion Committee, but the ministry still needs to complete several procedures before submitting the proposal to the Executive Yuan for final approval, he said.
The department has estimated that raising the service charge to NT$500 would increase the revenue accrued from the charge from NT$42 billion annually to NT$70 billion.
The proposal to raise the service charge has drawn a mixed response from netizens. One woman, called Jessie Chen, said NT$500 is relatively inexpensive compared to the fees at other airports around the world.
Another netizen, named Joy Tsai, wrote that the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was the least deserving of a fee increase.
“Water leaks and flooding are reported constantly at the airport, rain or shine, and it wants to talk about raising the fee,” Tsai wrote.
Government statistics show the nation’s airports handle about 14.12 million passengers a year, including those heading abroad.
The Taoyuan airport’s portion of the service charge revenue would increase from NT$4.9 billion to NT$14.5 billion over the next eight years.
The Hong Kong International Airport’s airport service charge is equal to NT$676, while South Korea’s Incheon International Airport charges NT$761, Narita International Airport in Japan charges NT$721 and Singapore Changi Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport charge NT$800.