Hong Kong – Passengers were facing higher prices for flights out of Hong Kong as fuel surcharges were increased Tuesday by more than one third for 13 airlines.

The city’s Civil Aviation Department approved a hike of up 37 per cent rise in fuel surcharges for the airlines, including Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines, starting next week in response to record-high fuel prices.

The surcharge is expected to raise the cost of the average short- haul flight out of Hong Kong by 52 US dollars while a long haul flight will cost an average of 133 US dollars more.

Cathay Pacific chief executive Tony Tyler said that the price increases refected ‘soaring jet fuel prices that are posing an enormous challenge to the aviation industry.’

He said in a statement: ‘The situation is having a very serious financial impact on airlines worldwide, and we are no exception. The price of fuel has doubled since last year and has risen by 55 per cent this year alone. At current prices, it costs us 360,000 US dollars in fuel alone to fly a (Boeing) 747-400 to London and back.’

Jet fuel prices now account for around 40 per cent of Cathay Pacific’s net operating costs, compared with just 30 per cent in 2007, Tyler said.