Regional airports face disaster from proposals, warns ETRC

27 August, 2008
Page 11 
Duty-free liquor sales at re-gional European airports are under serious threat after the publication of a new Excise Duty Directive by the Euro-pean Commission .

Currently, passengers de-parting from European Union airports on flights transiting within the EU, are able to buy duty-free goods at either their originating or transfer airports, provided their final destination lies outside the EU.

In effect, this means that a traveller taking a flight from Aberdeen airport, for example, and then transferring at London Heathrow before flying on to New York JFK, can purchase duty-free items at both UK airports.

However, under the new proposal, transfer travellers will no longer be allowed to purchase duty-free items at their originating airport, as their "immediate destination" will be understood to be the transfer airport, which is located inside the EU.

The European Travel Retail Council (ETRC) believes that, if adopted, such a proposal would have disastrous consequences for duty-free sales at regional EU airports, which are often heavily reliant on transit flights.

"The Excise Duty Directive is a discriminatory measure against the smaller regional airports dependent on commercial revenue," said ETRC president Frank O'Connell. "In addition, it will further complicate the rules and regulations in place for transfer passengers."

The ETRC has already been in contact with senior EC officials and members of the European Parliament to express its concerns about this new threat to the duty-free industry.

The proposal could be ratified by as early as April next year.