NEW THREAT TO DUTY FREE ALCOHOL SALES
Earlier this week, UK-based Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies launched a one-man campaign by making a formal submission to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) that duty free alcohol bottles should be prohibited from carry-on hand luggage.
Davies is taking an aggressive stance with his concerns, having already written to Dr Taieb Cherif, Secretary General of the ICAO, asking if the security arrangements at UK airports were in line with current rules.
Davies acknowledges that Dr Cherif has confirmed that existing regulations provide for bottles to be carried onboard aircraft as hand luggage, but more ominously Davies also claims that the ICAO has now welcomed his suggestion that they could reconsider the dangers of bottles on planes when they meet early next year.
According to a statement from his office, Davies says he is concerned that bottles could be broken and used as weapons to threaten cabin crew and other passengers. His official statement also says: ‘Airport shops encourage holidaymakers to buy generous quotas of wine and spirits and take them into the flight cabin as hand luggage and Mr Davies claims that airports managers are putting profits before safety.’
In his formal submission to the ICAO's security section Davies has apparently argued that bottles could fall into two separate categories of prohibited items, both as blunt instruments and sharp objects.
In particular he refers to the ICAO's Aviation Security Manual, appendix 35, dealing with prohibited items and quotes section 1, which reads: ‘Blunt instruments – any blunt object capable of being used to cause injury.’ He also quotes section 5, which reads: ‘Pointed/edged weapons and sharp objects – any pointed or bladed item capable of being used to cause injury.’
In his argumentation, Davies said: ‘A bottle of vodka or gin could too easily be turned into a lethal weapon. Rules to ensure that dangerous objects are not taken aboard planes should be respected, but in this instance it seems that money talks. The authorities appear not to want to disrupt the trade of airport shops, or to make arrangements to ensure that all such purchases are put into the hold rather than carried onboard.’
(The Business has today made the ETRC fully aware of this statement. Meanwhile, a full official statement from Davies' office can be found at: www.chrisdaviesmep.org.uk/ At the same time, The Business is endeavouring to obtain an official statement from the ICAO later today).
NEW THREAT TO DUTY FREE TOBACCO SALES
A new tobacco bill which is due before the Spanish Senate for approval today, looks likely to see an effective ban on the sale of duty free tobacco onboard Spanish airlines and their code sharing partners from January 1 2006.
The good news is that the new bill is not expressly aimed at the duty free channel as such and will not affect shops operated by airport shops retailer Aldeasa or ports operator Provimar. Similarly, ferry operations will also still be free to sell duty free on North African routes and others, once they are outside of Spanish waters.
However, the bad news is that Spanish national carrier Iberia and the country's charter operators Spantax and others are directly affected and none of these operations will be able to sell duty free tobacco under this new law.
This is because the new bill will effectively make it illegal to sell tobacco products in any environment in future where it is not permissible to smoke. The bill also looks at bans on other outlets selling tobacco and the restrictions on the advertising of tobacco.
European Travel Retail Council (ETRC) Secretary General Keith Spinks confirmed that the bill has caught everyone on the backfoot with regard to the partial duty free ban, and its fast emergence has left little or no time for anyone to be able to influence its passage or otherwise: ‘We are aware of the situation and we are very concerned about this setting some sort of precedent,’ he said.
Spinks added that this was the first time that one channel in the duty free tobacco business had been dragged down by legislation which is squarely aimed at banning tobacco sales and advertising in areas of the domestic market.