Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience…
Thousands more aviation jobs could be lost and airfares are likely to rise as a result of a decision by the British government to abolish Duty Free shopping for international travellers passing through the nation’s airports. Heathrow airport alone estimates that 2,000 workers could lose their jobs once the “disastrous tourist tax” is introduced on January 1, 2021.
The Treasury announced plans to stop the majority of Duty Free shopping for international travellers earlier this year, with the exception of tobacco and alcohol which will be extended to passengers who are travelling to EU countries. International passengers will also be able to take advantage of tax free shopping on other goods if they choose to have their shopping delivered direct to their home address.
But the boss of Heathrow Airport believes the decision will still result in around 2,000 job losses because sales at airside shops will plummet. Nationally, one trade group estimates that 19,000 jobs could be lost as a result of the decision.
“Recent announcements, such as the tourist tax, could be the final nail in the coffin for struggling businesses such restaurants, hotels and theatres that rely on inbound tourists, as well as for retailers,” explained Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye.
“To make Global Britain a reality, the government should be helping the aviation sector to survive, to develop routes to our key trading partners, and attract businesses and tourists to come to Britain to spend their money,” he continued.
The loss of airside shopping could cost the British economy as much as £2.1 billion annually. Heathrow rakes in as much as £585 million per year on retail sales – around 20 per cent of its revenues.
Some travellers are unlikely to miss the shopping mall like experience that many airports have become but the shortfall in revenues is likely to be recouped in higher fees that airports charge airlines. Those fees will then likely be passed onto passengers in the form of higher airfares.
The aviation industry, already battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and now facing the uncertainty of a no-deal Brexit, believes this couldn’t come at a worse time. Passenger numbers were down 88 per cent at Heathrow in November and on Friday, the airport said it would keep Terminal 4 mothballed through to the end of 2021 based on current passenger forecasts.
The end of the VAT Retail Export Scheme also means that international visitors can’t buy goods in British shops and then obtain a tax refund at airports as they leave the country. The scheme was popular with high spending tourists who booked trips to the UK specifically to buy luxury goods at a knockdown price compared to what they would be expected to pay at home.
Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience at a major Middle East and European airline. Mateusz is passionate about the aviation industry and helping aspiring flight attendants achieve their dreams. Cabin crew recruitment can be tough, ultra-competitive and just a little bit confusing - Mateusz has been there and done that. He's got the low down on what really works.