Duty-free business picks up

Although not back to normal, business has picked up for duty-free stores at the Owen Roberts International Airport since duty free liquids have been delivered directly to the steps of planes.

A previous ban on almost all liquids being carried on board US-bound planes was relaxed recently to allow for duty-free to be delivered to plane steps by store personnel.

According to President Tortuga Rum Company, Robert Hamaty, business at the airport duty-free store has picked up a lot since the regulations were relaxed.

Business would have been 75 per cent down under the initial ban on liquids and just after the relaxed rules came in to effect, he said. But as of Friday it appeared that business was only down by about 10 per cent, said Mr. Hamaty.

Manager of the Jacques Scott airport duty free store, Helen Chawe said business has certainly improved from the first two days after the foiled attack, when duty-free sales came virtually came to a standstill.

Business has improved, but it is not back to normal, she said, explaining that it still seems to be down as much as 50 per cent as of yesterday.

But with recent days being much improved, she anticipates sales will keep climbing.

Following a foiled terror threat against US carriers, from Thursday 10th August to Saturday 12 August liquor, perfumes or any liquids could not be taken as carry-on luggage on board US or UK bound flights from Cayman.

The stores which had been affected were Tortuga Liquors, Jacques Scott Duty Free, Bodden Freeport and Kirk Freeport.

But beginning on Saturday 12 August, duty-free liquids were permitted to be taken to the steps of the plane by the store personnel.

All airlines in to and out of Cayman have agreed to this new procedure of delivery of duty free goods to planes.

No one globally has given any estimate on how long this arrangement may last.

Mr. Hamaty said, ‘We all look forward to going back to a normal operation as delivery to stairs is very time consuming and costly with the additional staff. We will just have to wait on the authorities in the USA and the U.K.’

The delivery to planes is not an easy process Ms Chawe noted, saying the heat is difficult to deal with, as is the rain.

Ultimately though, at this point they have got it worked out through team playing.

‘I have great staff. We are all working really well together and we’re just dealing with it. We simply get on with it,’ she said.

Ms Chawe said that only in the last few days has the public really started to put trust back in buying duty free.

‘The local people who normally would buy have never seen us deliver to planes before,’ she explained, adding that there is an element of trust there that it will be delivered, and with the whole security issue. For instance, if travelling to Miami and connecting to another flight, the liquor must then be checked into the traveller’s baggage once in Miami. Because of this some have been reluctant to buy duty free because of the hassle of doing this, they may not have room in their checked luggage or they fear the luggage will be lost.