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Airline fuel surcharges may decline

The government is planning to reduce fuel surcharges on international flights this year due to a drop in international crude oil prices, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said Monday.

The ministry said it will reform the current fuel surcharging system, categorized only in terms of long-distance and short-distance flights. It plans to specify classifications according to flight time or distance, officials said.

“Adjusting fuel surcharges is an issue that needs to be discussed with airlines but we are expecting them to cooperate with our plan,” the ministry said.

“The level of surcharges is likely to be decreased to lower than the current rates.”

Currently, surcharges for long-distance international flights to cities in America, Europe and Australia stand at $136 and $60 for short-distance international routes to China and Southeast Asia.

Fuel surcharges were first adopted by local air carriers in 2005 when crude oil prices dramatically surged. The government-set surcharge system allows the carriers to adjust surcharges for international routes monthly in tandem with the average price of fuel oil in the previous two months.

Yet, as two major airlines, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, raised fares and thus achieved record-high sales figures last year, there was growing demand from the industry and consumers that fuel surcharges be abolished.

By Koh Young-aah (