The newly-formed Central & Eastern Europe Travel Retail Association (CEETRA) is to chair a session at the DFNI Global Conference next week, exploring the best ways to maximise the duty free potential of the region.
Markets such as Russia and Turkey are booming in terms of passenger numbers although recent third quarter negative growth in countries such as Bosnia & Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia and Slovakia indicate that the region can’t be viewed as a single entity, and that there are major issues to deal with.
The latest data from airports association ACI Europe, released on Tuesday, show a Europe of two halves: EU traffic in the third quarter grew by only +0.1% whereas non-EU airports continued to power ahead with average growth of +8.7% in Q3 led by airports in Russia, Turkey and Moldova.
These trends, which are expected to continue, are ones that CEETRA wants to be on top of given that its target markets: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, are all EU members [or in accession in the case of Croatia-Ed]. The association is also forming at a time when new DF&TR associations are emerging in both Russia and Turkey, the two markets driving the current growth in Europe.
CEETRA’s Chairman Alan Bork (left), who is also Director of the Consumers Business Unit at Budapest Airport, tells TRBusiness.com: “There is no doubt the financial crisis remains serious, but some markets, like Poland and the Czech Republic, are doing better than others. CEETRA’s aim is to give better representation to a region in the EU which has not really had any. As for the duty free associations in Turkey and Russia, we understand they have their own specific issues to deal with and we have already had dialogue with them both.”
THREATS AND OPPORTUNITIES
At the conference (full details here), Bork will outline the main threats facing the DF&TR business in the CEETRA area and introduces a panel of four retailers and suppliers who will present case studies on their experiences and also explore the limitations to operating there.
Gebr. Heinemann Sales Director Eastern Europe Sven Niemeier, and Vienna Airport Senior Vice-President Center Management Adil Raïhani will both join the panel. An open discussion will follow after which CEETRA will hold its annual general meeting.
While Central & Eastern Europe is a region of contrasts, it remains a good prospect for DF&TR. Commenting on the Q3 results, Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI Europe says: “A closer look reveals a wide disparity between national markets – ranging from a double-digit decrease in Greece to double-digit growth in Estonia and Lithuania.” In September, among small airports with less than five million passengers, Arad (Romania), Ohrid (Macedonia), and Zadar (Croatia) stood out for their high year-on-year growth.