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Chinese airlines apply fuel surcharge after 3-year hiatus


CHINESE carriers including Air China and China Eastern Airlines Corp were set to apply a fuel surcharge to domestic routes from Tuesday, the first time they have done so in three years as oil prices begin to rise.

Air China said in a statement on its website on Monday that it would begin charging 10 yuan (S$2.1) per leg from zero previously. China Eastern said the same, but added that children and disabled military personnel would be exempt.

Spring Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Kunming Airlines also announced similar surcharges.

The same surcharge will apply to routes that are both less or more than 800 kilometres long, the airlines said. Previously, they applied different surcharges for different route lengths.

Chinese airlines scrapped fuel surcharges for domestic flights in 2015, after oil prices sank to six-year lows and pushed fuel purchase costs to below a government-set level.

But the companies do not hedge fuel buys like many of their oversees peers, which has left them vulnerable as oil prices begin to rise. Brent crude is trading just over US$75 a barrel, up almost 50 per cent from a year ago.

Air China's 2017 profit fell short of analysts' forecasts due to higher-than-expected operating expenses including that of fuel, costs for which it said jumped 29.2 per cent to 6.42 billion yuan over the year. REUTERS

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