JoannaWong

journalist – writer – traveler

Departing passengers to pay up to $180 construction fee for third runway under new proposal

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Departing passengers will pay the 26 billion, 18 per cent of the total 143 billion construction fee, to fund the third runway expansion projects in eight years. (by Jackson Ho)
Departing passengers will pay the 26 billion, 18 per cent of the total 143 billion construction fee, to fund the third runway expansion projects in eight years. (by Jackson Ho)

11 October

The Airport Authority Hong Kong proposes charging departing passengers airport construction fee
base on travelling distance and air ticket class to fund the 142 billion third runway.

Under the revised proposal, departing passengers will pay from $90 to $180 whilst transiting passengers will pay from $70 to $180 instead of a uniform cost of $180.

Yiu Si-wing, tourism constituency lawmaker, welcomes the new proposal.

“I dare not to say that [this price] is ideal. But it is more reasonable comparing to the $180 clean cut,” Mr Yiu said during a phone interview.

He believes the amount is small in relative to inflation and ticket cost and will not put off tourists.

The fee will be collected starting next April soonest and for eight years until 2023 when the runway is expected to be fully constructed.

Half of the funding of the third runway, about 69 billion, will come from bank borrowings, then 47 billion of the Airport Authority’s operational surplus and the 26 million construction fee collected from individual airport users of 18 per cent instead of being paid by the government which requires the Legislative Council’s approval.  

 Dr Law Cheung-kwok, Director of Policy, Aviation Policy and Research Centre at CUHK, also believes the impact on tourism is minimal and that the user-pay principle funding is reasonable and commonly used by other international airports for expansion.

“There are mainly two types of people taking flight. One is doing business. One is travelling,” Dr Law said “taking flight is not a necessity, nor do doing business or travelling.”

But the construction fee scheme is under fire for shifting the burden to the people who are enjoying the new facility.

constructionfee1

constructionfee1, constructionfee2 (source: Hong Kong Airport Authority)
constructionfee1, constructionfee2 (source: Hong Kong Airport Authority)

“It is unreasonable for people today to subsidise the people in the future,” said Professor Chong Tai-leung, associate professor of Department of Economics in CUHK, “therefore, reducing the charge or even removing it would be the best.”  

He thinks the control of cost in building third runway is more important than how to gather capital, but suggests the construction fee charging airlines based on airport consumption according to the flight models of their planes and pollution emission.

Lee Cheuk-yan, Hong Kong confederation of Trade Unions lawmaker, says the construction fee is not the debate. 

“I think we should not discuss the construction fee, but basically whether to build the third runway or not at all,” said Mr Lee, who thinks the biggest problem is the unsolved airspace issue.

 “It’s nonsense,” said Ana Chan, a university student studying in the UK and fly back-and-forth to Hong Kong twice a year, “The third runway is actually not as useful as expected, why do we have to pay extra fee to compensate the lost of a wrong decision?”

Mr Lee added, “Basically, 1 billion can do a lot of things. Why do we have to put it in a white elephant airport?”

Written by Crystal Tse

Reported by Joanna Wong

Photos and video by Jackson Ho

https://hkbujournalism.wordpress.com/category/business/

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