The Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to relax restrictions on duty-free purchases, which from September 1 can be carried on board flights. The restrictions on carrying liquids, gels and pastes as hand baggage — barring medicines (but with doctors' prescription) — remain.
Sources said the ministry had been under pressure from international travellers and duty-free chains like ITDC and Flemingo to relax the restrictions. The government-run ITDC had reported losses of Rs 10 lakh on account of the restrictions on hand baggage from August 11, days before Independence Day, and further upgraded after the plot to bomb 10 planes on trans-Atlantic flights was unearthed in Britain.
From September 1, passengers can buy items from duty-free shops at departure lounges. These items would not be handed over to the passengers but delivered at the aircraft gate just before departure, Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad said. The move is in line with what has been done at several airports across the world, including those in Europe and Southeast Asia.
According to the new rules, duty-free items will be sold under proper cash receipt -- mentioning the name of the passenger, seat number and name of the air carrier.
These items will be kept in a uniquely identifiable bag to which the cash receipt shall be attached. It will be the responsibility of the duty-free shopowner to get the bag checked and delivered to the concerned passenger at the gate of the aircraft.
The duty-free shopowners have been asked not to keep or sell prohibited goods, and to vet employees – particularly those who would be deployed to deliver the sold goods to passengers. Background checks of all such employees will be carried out by the BCAS. CISF or police personnel will check the duty-free bags.
Passengers can also collect the bags on production of the receipt issued to them at the duty-free shops.
The Hindustan Times had on Saturday reported the huge losses that ITDC and Flemingo had suffered because of these restrictions.