Millennium Post

Proposed cut in duty-free liquor, cigarettes to cause Rs 650cr/yr loss to airports

Mumbai: Indian airports are likely to incur a revenue loss of Rs 650 crore per annum if the reported recommendations of the Commerce Ministry on duty-free sales are put in place, private airports operators body APAO said on Tuesday.

Vehemently opposing the proposed move to reduce liquor allowance from two litres to one litre and to do away with import of cigarettes presently one carton of 100 sticks, the Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) in a statement said the move will have "disastrous" effect on the domestic aviation industry.

The Commerce Ministry, as part of its proposals to the finance ministry ahead of the budget, has recommended restricting purchase of tax-free alcohol to one bottle at duty-free shops as part of steps to reduce import of non-essential goods, sources had said earlier.

The ministry, as per the sources, has also recommended to the Finance Ministry that purchase of cigarette cartons at duty-free shops should be prohibited.

"Such a move will have disastrous effects on the Indian aviation industry across all stakeholders including airports, airlines, passengers and duty-free operators," APAO said.

According to the Association, the proposed restrictions will lead to increase in passenger charges, hurt airport industry and may "encourage smuggling," besides a revenue loss of about Rs 650 crore per annum at all airports.

Liquor imports for duty-free sale stands at around USD 97 million as against country's total import bill of USD 460 billion, according to the APAO. The revenue loss at airports will impact the operators' financial ratings and consequently hamper expansion plans, it said.

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