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EU loosens restrictions on Duty Free

The European Union has passed legislation making it permissible for passengers from non-EU countries to transit airports in the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland with duty free goods bought at the point of origin.

As from 29-Apr-2011, duty free purchases that are packed in unopened ICAO approved sealed tamper evident bags will be allowed in the passenger compartment on continuing flights within the region.

The European Travel Retail Council (ERTC) has lobbied for some time to have the policy amended, citing ongoing passenger frustration and uncertainty.

While the legislation will allow such transit carriage, it is clear that the restrictions will not be lifted at all EU airports. Some are awaiting enhanced security equipment while others will be subject to final approval from their own regulators who may choose to leave current policies in place.

Additionally, the new waiver will not apply for passengers arriving from the US, Canada, Croatia, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur where existing rules will continue to apply.

While a theoretical improvement for passengers, in practice the ruling may have a far more muted immediate effect.

Major listed duty free retailing stocks were down yesterday, with wider markets.

Selected Duty Free daily share price movements (% change): 13-Apr-2011