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Incheon Int'l Airport to hold another duty-free auction this week after foiled attempts

All News 08:53 October 12, 2020

SEOUL, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) -- The operator of Incheon International Airport, South Korea's main gateway, said Monday it plans to auction duty-free licenses this week following its two previous botched efforts to draw bidders amid the new coronavirus outbreak.

The Incheon International Airport Corp. (IIAC) plans to hold another auction Tuesday for six duty-free selections in the airport's Terminal 1, as its second round of bidding fell through in late September.

Of the country's four major duty-free operators, only industry leader Lotte Hotel and No. 3 player Shinsegae took part in the bidding last month. Their bids were thwarted as preset rules were not met.

No. 2 player Hotel Shilla and smaller rival Hyundai Department Store Duty Free did not join the auction.

The IIAC failed to attract enough tenders despite its proposal for a sharp cut in lease fees, underscoring an extended slump in the duty-free business sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February, the IIAC auctioned eight new licenses for duty-free operations at the airport, but the bidding to run six sections fell through due to a lack of tenders.

Industry watchers said the upcoming auction may end in failure again, as the airport operator plans to proceed with the bidding under the same proposed terms of contract.

If the third attempt is foiled, the IIAC may try to contact duty-free operators to clinch license deals.

Local duty-free operators are still suffering from the industrywide slump, as the number of customers have sharply fallen amid air travel disruptions.

Duty-free stores saw their sales increase for the fourth straight month in August, but their revenues still remain far below the pre-pandemic level.

Only a few customers are spotted at duty-free stores at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, in this photo taken Sept. 24, 2020. (Yonhap)


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