You soon won’t be able to flick through a catalogue of random perfumes, questionable jewellery and not so hot deals as yet another airline removes the joy of in-flight tax-free shopping. This time, the Scandinavian airline SAS has decided to axe all in-flight Duty Free sales as part of an effort to reduce the overall weight of its aircraft and in turn, save on fuel and CO² emissions.
The airline acknowledged that while the move will in part help in an ambitious initiative to cut emissions by at least 25% within the next 10-years, it was also driven by changing consumer behaviour – simply put, passengers would much rather buy what they want on the internet rather than make impulse purchases from an in-flight shopping brochure.
“Tax-free sales have long been a popular service onboard our flights amongst passengers who have used it, but our passengers’ buying behaviour has changed and sustainability has become more important than ever before,” the airline explained in a statement as it announced its intention to jettison bulky Duty Free shopping carts from its aircraft by this Autumn.
SAS says it plans to work on a “solution” that provides passengers with “modern ways” of buying and receiving goods. While the airline didn’t specify what that solution was or when it would be implemented, we can be fairly certain that it will be an online shopping portal that delivers purchases onboard or even direct to a passenger’s home address.
In March, Dutch airline KLM also announced plans to permanently suspend in-flight tax free shopping, again citing changing consumer behaviour. “Customers have grown accustomed to an almost infinite range of products for which they can look up the lowest price online. Competition with product ranges at the airports is also growing,” KLM explained, saying the decision was only made after extensive deliberation.
Tax free sales will stop on short-haul flights from next month, while sales on long-haul flights will be progressively removed by January 2020.
In a study conducted by Duty Free World Council and published by APEX, researchers found in-flight sales had fallen from 7.3% of total Duty Free sales in 2006 to just 4.6% by 2014. Other airlines like Qantas, American Airlines and United have already ridded their aircraft of Duty Free carts and other carriers will no doubt follow suit in the next 12-months.
Not that everyone is happy – cabin crew at British Airways’ Gatwick base have raised a grievance over plans to remove Duty Free sales from some flights. They claim the move will hit them financially because of the loss of commission.