Russian airports may allow the sale of alcohol to passengers on domestic flights. The corresponding bill on Wednesday, May 31, was presented by the Ministry of Finance of the country.
"The document proposes until June 30, 2026 to allow the retail sale of alcoholic beverages by owners of duty-free shops in stores located in the waiting rooms of domestic departures and in the baggage claim halls of Russian airports, with the establishment of special requirements for such a sale," the press service of the department said.
As explained in the Ministry of Finance, the initiative is designed to support operators of international airports in Russia and owners of duty-free shops. It is assumed that the measure will restore their incomes, which have fallen sharply over the past few years.
"Owners of duty-free shops and airports suffered serious losses during the spread of the new coronavirus infection due to a decrease in passenger traffic. The situation has been aggravated by the current geopolitical situation and the imposition of sanctions against the Russian Federation by a number of unfriendly countries," the accompanying materials to the bill say.
According to the forecast of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, in 2023 Russian companies can carry about 19.3 million passengers on international flights. For comparison: back in 2019, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of Western sanctions, this figure was almost three times more and amounted to about 55,1 million, as evidenced by the statistics of the Federal Air Transport Agency.
Against this background, over the past three years, the number of duty-free shops at Russian airports has decreased by 20% - from 45 to 36. In turn, the volume of alcoholic beverages sold by them collapsed immediately by 64% - from 11.25 million to 4.06 million liters, the Ministry of Finance noted.
Moreover, as the department emphasized, the owners of these outlets today cannot return unsold goods to the main suppliers, since transport and logistics corridors have been closed by European countries. At the same time, it is also impossible to release products to the domestic market of Russia due to problems with labeling, so alcohol has to be written off due to limited shelf life.
Meanwhile, to date, the sale of alcoholic beverages at airports is allowed only in duty-free shops. Moreover, according to the Ministry of Finance, airport rents average 30% of the industry's revenue.
"The negative effects arising from the presence of a problem: the industry is in critical condition, the duty-free industry may be lost, as a result, airports will not receive revenue from non-aviation revenues, more than 10 thousand employees of the industry will be left without work," the Ministry of Finance warned.
However, according to experts of the department, the new law should help airports cope with financial difficulties without providing additional subsidies from the state. At the same time, the initiative will save jobs and the amount of taxes paid by business, as well as provide an opportunity to sell alcoholic beverages, the ministry said.
"Earlier, the first steps have already been taken in this direction. Thus, duty-free shops were able to sell alcohol on flights from Russia to the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union. Now the authorities want to further support businesses that operate at airports, "said Alexander Kalinin, president of the All-Russian Public Organization of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Opora Rossii, in a conversation with RT.
- RIA Novosti
- © Alexei Nikolsky
According to him, the business will receive additional points of sale, while airports will be able to maintain revenues and profitability. At the same time, according to the expert, the initiative is unlikely to lead to an increase in the number of incidents involving drunk passengers.
"All the same, it is forbidden to drink alcoholic beverages brought with you on board. I think, as on international flights, the products will be packed in a protective bag that cannot be opened until the end of the trip. That is, this will not affect flight safety in any way, but at the same time people will have the opportunity to buy alcohol, for example, as a gift and take it with them in hand luggage, "Kalinin explained.
A similar point of view is shared by Alexander Razuvaev, a member of the Supervisory Board of the Guild of Financial Analysts and Risk Managers. In his opinion, a serious increase in the number of offenses should not be expected, and the initiative itself "should become a pleasant bonus" for citizens and entrepreneurs.
"The main objective of the initiative is to help stores at airports increase revenue. Passengers, most likely, will be able to buy alcohol at a lower cost, since trade will go without taxes and duties, "the RT interlocutor concluded.