Jim Higgins MEP has asked the European Commission to examine a low cost airline policy which is having an adverse affect. “Some low cost carriers restrict each passenger to just one carry-on item or else they face a fine. It is an issue of huge concern for the entire duty free and travel retail industry with obvious consequences for sales at airports,” said Mr Higgins.
Mr Higgins addressed the issue as keynote speaker at the European Travel Retail Council in Brussels. “Low cost carriers have revolutionised the air travel industry. Smaller airports have increased in traffic and benefit from the growing numbers of passengers. However changes brought by low cost carriers are not always good. I have written to the European Commission to voice my concerns and have asked the Commission to come forward with innovative solutions to resolve the issue.”
The North West MEP, who is a member of the Parliament's transport committee, also confirmed that the ban on transfer passengers carrying liquids bought in duty free shops will be lifted by the European Union by April 2011, with all the restrictions on travelling with liquids and gels to be lifted by 2013. Crucially though, other major markets such as the United States, Australia, and Canada are not lifting restrictions for liquids bought in duty free in Europe. Passengers travelling to these countries, and then transferring, will not be able to carry duty free bought in European duty free shops.
On a positive note, Mr Higgins reminded those present of Ireland's lead role in the origins of duty free. “Duty free was first invented in my own constituency, Shannon, in 1951. It has since risen to great heights, with a global turnover of over €30 billion. Revenue from duty free has built airports and paid for new airplanes the world over. It is Ireland's unique contribution to the aviation industry. The jet engine may not have been invented in the west of Ireland, but the means to pay for it certainly was.”