Air Transport World

End of duty-free sales looms within EC.

London-The history of duty-free sales can be traced back to the days of stagecoaches and months-long sea voyages, with purchases of cheap alcohol and tobacco before departure being sanctioned to help relieve the tedium and provide comfort against the rigors of the journey.

Today, duty-free, epitomized by the yellow plastic bags carried on to flights in Europe, many of the sectors lasting less than an hour, has little to do with that traditional scene and is under threat of cancellation by the European Commission.

Not that the commission has any objection on moral grounds. Cancellation is on the agenda because once trade barriers between the 12 European Community (EC) member nations go down on Jan. 1, 1993, the 12 will be in one large domestic market-and the principle of duty-free is that it can only be used if a traveler is going "abroad. …

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