AoT told to delay airport duty-free bid

Duty-free outlets at Suvarnabhumi airport (file photo)

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has asked state-owned Airports of Thailand Plc to delay bidding for duty-free shops and commercial area concessions amid concern that the current terms could result in a monopoly for the winner.

Mr Arkhom was responding to the government's announcement earlier on Friday that AoT should revise its plan to auction the master concession for duty-free shops at Suvarnabhumi, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai airports and another single contract for commercial areas at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak made the announcement, saying it was an instruction from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who had expressed concern about the existing auction structure.

The Transport Ministry invited AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn to discuss the issue and AoT was told to delay the bids for both concessions pending careful consideration, the minister said.

AoT will revise the terms of its auctions to ensure fair competition and ask the Finance Ministry if private participation in the projects must undergo scrutiny under the new public-private joint venture act, Mr Arkhom said.

"The Transport Ministry will closely supervise AoT on the issues. It must listen to opinions from concerned parties before proceeding," he said.

King Power International Group is the current holder of all duty-free concessions, a situation that has prompted complaints from retail groups that want to see more competition in the sector.

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