Duty free shops for airport arrivals ‘would boost sales’

Bosses at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports say cut price alcohol could help sector recover during the pandemic.

Duty free shops for airport arrivals ‘would boost sales’ Getty Images

Bosses at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports have called for duty free shops for arrivals to help boost sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Similar shops operate in other non-European Union countries such as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

AGS Airports, which runs Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton said it had written to Rishi Sunak and local MPs “to highlight this as a possible jobs boost and revenue source”.

Edinburgh Airport issued a statement saying it would “help the travel sector recover” after the impact of the pandemic, which caused a third of jobs to be lost there.

The airports’ duty free shops offer alcohol and perfume at around 20% less than high-street prices for passengers leaving the UK.

It is expected similar discounts would apply if on-arrival shops were introduced for passengers flying in from outside the UK, the Scotsman reported.

The stores give a proportion of their sales to the airports rather than pay rent.

AGS Airports, which runs Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton said it would be of “great benefit”.

A spokesman for AGS Airports said: “The introduction of arrivals duty-free stores would help to offset some of losses our airports have suffered as a result of the devastating effects of Covid-19, and we have made this clear to the UK Government.

“This easy-to-implement, cost-neutral policy would also provide support for regional airports, deliver much-needed new jobs and be of great benefit to our passengers.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “Duty free on-arrivals stores have been successfully deployed around the world.

“Their introduction in Scotland would significantly help our travel sector recover after one of the most damaging periods it has ever faced.

“These stores would create jobs, directly at the airport and indirectly in supply chains, increase revenue and showcase the provenance of top-quality Scottish products like malt whisky.

“We encourage the UK Government to look carefully at these proposals and act to support the travel industry’s recovery.”

However, the UK Government suggested it remained to be persuaded of the merits of such shops, and pointed out that duty free now applied to those travelling to EU countries.

The Treasury said duty free on arrival “conflicts with international principles of taxation which suggest that goods should be taxed in the country where they are consumed”.

“The introduction of such a scheme could also undermine the UK high street and public health objectives.”

A spokesperson for the Treasury said: “At the start of the year, we gave British airports a boost by changing the rules for the first time in 20 years so that people travelling to the EU can buy beers, wines and spirits duty free.

“We’ve supported the travel sector since the start of the crisis and will continue to do so as we recover.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code