KLM has announced plans to phase out inflight duty free sales, blaming the rise of internet shopping and competition from airport retail sales.
Sales of duty free items on European flights will be suspended in July, followed by long-haul intercontinental service from January 2020.
The Dutch carrier said it was “exploring alternative forms of travel retail concept”, with plans to launch “several pilot projects”.
The airline said that “customers have grown accustomed to an almost infinite range of products for which they can look up the lowest price online”, adding that competition from airport retail stores had also grown.
Commenting on the move Miriam Kartman, Executive Vice President, KLM Inflight Services, said:
“Because the current sales process no longer meet today’s customer requirements, we have decided, after extensive deliberation, to bring this to an end.
“As a result, passengers on our European flights will no longer be able to buy tax-free articles on board from July 2019 and from January 2020 on our intercontinental flights.”
While KLM will have been wary of reducing its ancillary revenues by taking away inflight duty free sales, it will no doubt have weighed this against the fuel cost savings of not having to carry duty free items, many of which will remain unsold at the end of the flight.
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