AOT board agrees to split airport duty-free concession
The board of the Airports of Thailand Company (AOT) has decided to split the concession to operate airport duty-free shops into two contracts – one for Suvarnabhumi and the other for Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai international airports.
The AOT board, which arrived at the decision on Thursday, has stipulated that the products to be sold at the duty-free shops at all four airports must be of good quality, competitively pricedand the financial returns for the AOT from the two contractsmust be no less than those it receives under the current single operator concession.
Initially, the AOT wanted to retain the one-contract bidding format, but came under heavy criticism from several other retail giants who are eyeing a share of the lucrative duty-free business,which has been monopolized for years by King Power International Group, whose concession expires next year.
Mr. Mana Nimitmongkol, secretary-general of the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand, said that previously the AOT acted alone in awarding the concession, without holding public hearings to hear the views of other stakeholders.
He suggested the AOT should adopt good corporate governance practices, similar to those used in the award of the Blue Line train project, to ensure transparency.