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Hotel Shilla to extend duty-free operations at Incheon Int'l Airport

All Headlines 16:44 July 09, 2020

SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- Hotel Shilla, a major duty-free operator in South Korea, agreed to extend the operation of its outlets at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, despite a slump caused by the new coronavirus, the operator of the country's main gateway said Thursday.

Its archrival Lotte Hotel also has decided to extend its operations at Terminal 1 of the airport.

Since May, Incheon International Airport Corp. (IIAC), the operator of the airport, has held talks with four duty-free operators, including Lotte Hotel and Hotel Shilla, over whether to allow the extension of licenses that are scheduled to expire next month.

South Korea's duty-free operators face a slump, as the pandemic has disrupted air travel.

SM Duty Free, a midsized duty-free operator, said Monday it will withdraw its stores from the airport, citing business setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another midsized player, City Duty Free, is believed to have expressed its intention to keep operating at the airport.

Duty-free operators have called for the IIAC to sharply cut lease fees, as their earnings were hit hard by the virus outbreak.

Duty-free stores saw their combined sales fall below the 1 trillion-won (US$836 million) mark for the first time in four years in April, according to industry data.

Few customers are spotted at duty-free stores at Terminal 1 of Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, in this file photo taken on May 15, 2020. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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