Eurasian Duty Free Association appeals for government support as Russia grounds international flights

RUSSIA. The Eurasian Duty Free Association has appealed for support for its members from the Russian government, with international air travel set to cease from midnight to stop the spread of COVID-19.

All scheduled and charter traffic from Russian airports to overseas destinations will be suspended, apart from repatriation flights. Domestic travel will continue. These measures follow a shutdown of border crossings, which prompted duty free border shop closures from 23 March. Now, said the association, all duty free shops in the country will be forced to close by tomorrow (27 March).

Duty free shops at Russian airports will be forced to cease trading as international flights stop from midnight

In a briefing note, the Eurasian Duty Free Association (EADF) said: “This new measure, added to those previously introduced, completely stops the operation of duty free shops. The situation has worsened due to the decline of Russian Ruble against foreign currencies, which has already led to a critical financial situation for all owners of duty free shops.

“Stopping activity of duty free shop owners for a uncertain period, along with the introduction of a complete ban on international flights, will lead to the inability of duty free shop owners to fulfil their obligations. In view of the above, the owners of duty free shops are in the most serious risk zone, compared to other retail industries, due to the simultaneous influence of a set of negative factors.

“The Eurasian Duty Free Association has applied to the Russian government to get support for the operators of duty free shops… to preserve the liquidity of these companies and their financial stability, to preserve jobs and ensure their future operation in all regions of the Russian Federation.”

The association noted that the government has developed measures to sustain the economy and its most vulnerable sectors. But it added that the situation “has a very negative impact on duty free retailers at airports, railway stations and automobile checkpoints across the state border of the Russian Federation”.

EADF Executive Director Fatima Dzoblaeva told The Moodie Davitt Report: “From 23 March almost all duty free shops at all types of crossing points stopped their activity. From 27 March we will have 100% retailer closure. Never have we met with such a crisis when all negative factors are affecting the duty free business in one time.”

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