BBC News

Gatwick: Job loss fears as tax-free airport sales axed

image copyrightReuters
image captionThose travelling outside the EU will no longer benefit from tax exemptions on items except alcohol and tobacco

Government plans to end nearly all tax-free sales in UK airports have been criticised amid fears of further job losses.

Tax-free sales, excluding alcohol and tobacco, will be removed from airports on 1 January 2021.

The Treasury said the decision followed concerns that benefits of tax-free sales "were not being consistently passed onto consumers".

Gatwick Airport has already seen 1,400 job losses.

Passenger numbers at the airport are down 80% due to the pandemic.

Only one of two terminals is open as usual and it is feared 3,000 further jobs could be affected.

'Hammer blow'

The new proposals means that any travellers going outside the EU will no longer benefit from tax-free shopping.

Francois Bourienne, chairman of the UK Travel Retail Forum, said the announcement was a "hammer blow" to an industry hit by Covid.

"Retailer and airport revenue will suffer, but most regrettably thousands more jobs and livelihoods will be wiped out in regions across the UK supported by the sector."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionPassenger figures are down 80% at Gatwick Airport

Rachel Bulford, director of retail at Gatwick Airport, added: "This was an opportunity to sustain and boost our situation and actually the reverse has happened and a potential benefit had been taken away."

The Treasury said the government would continue to support the aviation sector with capital schemes, flexibilities with tax bills and an extended 15% VAT cut.

"We're also extending duty-free sales to passengers travelling to the EU for the first time in over 20 years, which will be a significant boost to all airports in England, Scotland and Wales - including Gatwick."

Related Topics

  • Gatwick Airport

More on this story

  • Coronavirus: Gatwick Airport 'will take five years to recover'