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Logic-free shopping

New Delhi, Aug. 29: In a desperate attempt to save duty-free shops, the government today announced steps that are likely to draw more hilarity than business.

Sales at duty-free shops have plunged since almost everything is now banned from being carried into the aircraft.

The civil aviation ministry today announced that owners of duty-free shops outside the security hold area can now deliver goods to the passenger in an aircraft.

From September 1, owners of duty-free shops can have the purchases carried to the aircraft after putting them through security checks.

According to the statement: “The items will, however, not be handed over to the passenger at the duty-free shop. The items shall be kept in a uniquely identifiable bag to which the cash receipt shall be attached.

“It shall be the responsibility of the duty-free shop owner to get the bag containing the sold items checked at the security check points and have these delivered to the concerned passenger at the gate of the aircraft.”

A senior official of the India Tourism Development Corporation, which runs most duty-free shops, said the rules make purchase by passengers so difficult that they are unlikely to revive sales.

In instructions issued on August 11 after the London bombing plot was busted, the government prohibited passengers from carrying liquid items, gel, pastes or items of similar consistency, except medicines and inhalers accompanied by prescription and baby food, in their cabin baggage or on person.

Duty-free sales at the departure terminal, which account for 60-65 per cent of the business (the rest generated in the arrival lounge), have plummeted since. In Calcutta, for instance, sales of popular products like liquor and chocolates at the departure terminal have dropped 50-70 per cent.

Today’s rules say duty-free shop owners will have to ensure that no prohibited or dangerous goods are kept or sold. It will be the owner’s responsibility to see that security-cleared employees are kept on the rolls to deliver goods at the aircraft door.

Personnel belonging to the CISF or the state police in charge of security will check the duty-free bags before delivery.

The shop owner will also have to carry out daily anti-sabotage checks of the premises to make sure there are no dangerous goods. Background checks on owners and employees will be done within a deadline.

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