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Thai airport duty-free monopoly to be preserved

Airports of Thailand says it will maintain a monopoly on its airport duty-free retailing operation, despite widespread earlier reports, including on Inside Retail Asia.

The current exclusive right to operate duty-free retail facilities at the nation’s largest airport, Suvarnabhumi near Bangkok, is held by King Power which has been invited to tender for a new contract commencing next year and running until March 31 2031.

The Moodie Davitt Report has revealed that submissions are open to retailers which meet minimum requirements on existing retail store trading size.

There are separate tenders for food and beverage licenses at the airport, and for a collection service, which would allow people to buy items duty free in city department stores and collect air side after they pass through customs upon leaving the country.  

The submission deadline is set for April 30, with concessions also available at airports in Hat Yai, Chiang Mai and Phuket.

Despite pressure from local retailers, including Central Group, to allow multiple duty-free operators at the airports, Airports of Thailand is sticking with a single-player model. The incumbent operator is expected to face strong competition for the placing, with multiple major international brands likely to contend, despite a US$79,000 application fee.

Application documents must be filed before April 1 and a decision on the winning bidder – which must be a Thai firm or Thai-led JV – will be announced on May 10.

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