Destination Duty Free Land: Two passengers show off their purchases from Lotte Duty Free earlier this year

SOUTH KOREA. Duty free sales on so-called ‘Flights to nowhere’ reached KRW22.8 billion (US$20.40 million) over the past six months, according to a report in The Korea Herald, citing Korea Customs.

Average spend reached an impressive KRW1.42 million (US$1,270), confirming the allure of the pioneering sector revealed recently by Lotte Duty Free, which generated even higher average sales of KW1.2 million (US$1,075) per customer during the first quarter with the March figure hitting KW1.62 billion (US$1,450).

By the end of May, almost 16,000 passengers had taken the destination-less flights since they were initiated by South Korean airlines last December to boost revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said.

Who would have imagined at the start of 2019 that Lotte Duty Free would become an inflight retailer? (Above) Cabin crew draw the lucky winners of a sweepstake.

The planes from seven Korean airlines enter airspace above other countries without stopping, before returning to land in Korea.
Cosmetics were the most sought-after duty free product, with sales amounting to KRW6.1 billion (US$5.5 million). Bags came next with KRW4 billion (US$3.6 million) followed by fragrances at KRW2.5 billion (US$2.2 million)

Customs data showed 7,266 passengers bought duty free goods above the allowance of US$600 per person.

In his speech to a high-level duty free seminar in Seoul last week, The Moodie Davitt Report Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie praised the collaboration between airport retailers and airlines, saying that the formula could also work in normal times.

Martin Moodie addresses the high-level duty free seminar held at the National Assembly in Seoul last week 

“What of the airlines’ role? Instead of being the poor relation of duty free, will more airlines realise the power of their passenger relationship, their data and their time in the sky with a Wi-Fi-enabled service and on-ground fulfilment?

“Lotte Duty Free has tied up with Korean Air and Asiana Airlines in recent times on its ‘flights to nowhere’. This proves that collaboration between retailer and airline can work. Why not more of such partnerships, especially once flights can actually fly somewhere and not nowhere?”

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