11 July 2024

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered a review of the bidding process for the concession to operate duty free shops at Suvarnabhumi, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai airports to ensure transparency and optimum benefit for the state.

Government deputy spokesman, Lt-Gen Veerachon Sukhonthapark, said today that the Prime Minister is aware of concerns over the bidding model used by Airports of Thailand Company (AOT), operator of the airports.

AOT wanted just one operator for duty free shops in all four airports, in order to make oversight more efficient, but critics claim this would effectively create a monopoly.

The Prime Minister has, therefore, instructed the Ministry of Transport to oversee the bidding process and work with the AOT to find a more appropriate bidding model.

Citing information from Generation Research, indicating that duty free earnings for Thailand in 2016 were just US$1.9 billion generated from 32.6 million tourists, while South Korea earnt US$10.9 billion from a mere 16.9 tourist arrivals, the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand has expressed doubts over the suspiciously low forecasts compared to other countries.  It is also concerned that the AOT’s bidding format might unduly favour big business.

The ACT also revealed that the new concession, when awarded,will include the lucrative duty free goods pick-up counter service.

Bidding forms will be available from March 19th until April 1st at 2.5 million baht a set.  Bids can be submitted for pre-qualification until April 30th. The result of the auction will be made public on May 10th.

At least five consortia, including the current concessionaire, are considering making bids.