Sat, Sep 10, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Watchdog queries how airport spends its service charge

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Despite an international airport service charge being increased last year, the Consumers’ Foundation yesterday said that several major problems had still occurred at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and the airport should make public what the service charge is used for.

The international airport service charge, including the international passenger service facility charge and the security service charge, was increased from NT$300 to NT$500 in May last year — the first increase in 27 years.

However, the foundation listed nine major incidents that occurred at the airport between June and last month, including a flood caused by a heavy downpour which affected more than 200 flights and 30,000 passengers in early June, a water outage due to a broken pipeline causing chaos in the restrooms and the air-conditioning system breaking down.

Other incidents included several cases of temporary or partial power shortages and more than 1,000 animals dying of heat exhaustion in containers last month.

Consumers’ Foundation chairman Alan Lu (陸雲) said that as the number of international passengers has increased, the service charge has allowed Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to increase its profit from NT$1.9 billion in 2014 to NT$3.38 billion last year.

The airport’s profit is expected to reach about NT$3.9 billion this year, he added.

The service charge accounted for nearly 40 percent of the airport’s total income, but it seems that facilities have not been improved and many have said that it is humiliating that the nation’s main international airport should suffer so many ridiculous incidents, he said.

Lu said the international airports in Japan, Macau and Hong Kong all clearly state that the charge is used to maintain airport facilities and services (and for the construction of a new runway in Hong Kong), but the purpose of Taiwan’s charge is to “maintain facilities and services” and “to develop tourism,” so it is unclear how the charge is being used by the airport and the Tourism Bureau.

“We hope Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport can improve its service management and be more open and transparent about what the charge is used for,” Consumers’ Foundation acting secretary-general Chang Hung-ju (張宏如) said.

The foundation said whether the charge is considered a “tax” or a “fee” is unclear, and if the charge is considered a fee, then the airport must provide a corresponding service.

It urged the government to amend regulations so that the nature of the charge can be clarified and to make public how the funds are being used.

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