‘Flights to Nowhere’ Buoy Korean Duty Free Sales


A man walks past signage for a Hotel Lotte Co. Duty Free store in Seoul, South Korea. Getty Images.

Lotte Duty Free is among the travel retailers betting on “flights to nowhere” — non-landing flights that fly through foreign airspace and return to the departure airport — as an opportunity to boost duty free sales, according to the Moodie Davitt Report.

Airlines including T’way Air, Air Busan, Jin Air and Korean Air are either already running these flights or preparing to do so, following a decision made last November to allow duty free sales up to $600 per passenger on these trips for a year. Approved flights are set to spike this month ahead of Lunar New Year holidays and with global travel at a standstill, retailers are working to make the most of this opportunity.

The strategy appears to be working. Lotte Duty Free, which is partnering with Air Busan to provide passengers with perks including an exclusive beauty kit, told the Moodie Davitt Report that the volume of duty free purchases by passengers on “flights to nowhere” was 2.5 times higher than those made during pre-pandemic trips.



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