KLM Ends In-Flight Duty-Free Sales

by Megan Hill

Apr 20, 2019

KLM

Feature

KLM will phase out in-flight duty-free sales due to a drop in purchases it blames on the rise of internet shopping and competition from airport retail sales.

The airline will stop all duty-free sales on European flights in July. Long-haul intercontinental service will end January 2020.

The Dutch carrier said it was “exploring alternative forms of travel retail concept,” with plans to try out “several pilot projects.”

KLM said “customers have grown accustomed to an almost infinite range of products for which they can look up the lowest price online,” and competition from airport retail stores has grown.

“Because the current sales process no longer meet today’s customer requirements, we have decided, after extensive deliberation, to bring this to an end,” said Miriam Kartman, executive vice president, KLM Inflight Services.

“As a result, passengers on our European flights will no longer be able to buy tax-free articles on board from July 2019 and from January 2020 on our intercontinental flights.”

KLM may lose some money on sales, but would also save money on fuel without the added weight of the duty-free items. In recent years, airlines tried to lower fuel costs by adding lighter seats and removing in-flight print newspapers and magazines.

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