Duty-free return would mark Brexit ‘silver lining’

The return of duty-free shopping between Ireland and the UK would be a silver lining in the aftermath of Brexit, says the managing director of Cork Airport, writes Pádraig Hoare.

Niall MacCarthy said the return of duty-free shopping should be an important part of Brexit negotiations.

Analysts have been divided on whether there will be any significant bump in trade if duty-free shopping was reintroduced between Ireland and the UK, but Mr MacCarthy said it would be hugely welcome for airports like Cork.

He said: “Brexit is bad for Irish business, and we believe bad for business between the UK and the EU generally. However, we must avail of every opportunity which it throws up and maximise these opportunities.

“On the basis of Britain’s signalled intent to exit the customs union, duty-free should arise again between flights between Ireland and the UK. We would encourage the pursuit of that objective as part of the Brexit negotiations,” he said. Passengers flying from Cork Airport can avail of duty-free shopping on flights to Boston Providence, Tenerife, Las Palmas, Lanzarote and Zurich.

“The addition of our existing 13 UK destinations from Cork to the duty-free shopping options post-Brexit in 2019 would be a silver lining to the Brexit story for the airport and the travelling public in Munster’ said Mr MacCarthy. Analysts have suggested ferry operators may be in a better position to capitalise on the return of duty-free shopping than airports and airlines.

Irish Continental Group which owns Irish Ferries, said the return of duty free would be beneficial.

“Traditionally, duty-free sales have been seen as something that adds to the travel experience while generating additional revenue for air and sea carriers with the result that its reintroduction on journeys between Ireland and UK in a post- Brexit situation would be welcomed,” a spokesman for Irish Ferries said.

According to Revenue, passengers from outside the EU can buy goods free of duty and tax up to €430, in addition to 200 cigarettes and a litre of spirits. Passengers travelling to Ireland from outside the EU, the Canary Islands, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar can avail of duty-free shopping.

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