Fed up with high Duty Free prices at Thailand's airports? When you compare them with those at other airports in the region, the prices are certainly higher, especially for the more expensive products. For example, here's a comparison of two whiskeys -
Chivas Regal Royal SaluteL HKG US$103 / BKK US$136
Macallan Whiskey 12 years old: HKG US$37 / BKK US$49
How do these compare with in flight purchases? Well, on Air China you can purchase TWO BOTTLES of Chivas Regal for the price of less than ONE BOTTLE at BKK. Regular travellers out of Thailand are well aware that the Duty Free prices are virtually a rip off, worse than virtually anywhere else.
By all the accounts we have read, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was a model owner of Leicester City Football Club. Perhaps even the most loved owner of any such Club. The accolades given to him for the Club's massive improvement have been well deserved.
Now that his funeral rites are underway, however, we should not forget that he made his rather fast fortune through a sweetheart deal with successive Thai governments giving his King Power Company unprecedented exclusive control of Duty Free outlets at all the Kingdom's main airports. The contract for BKK started win 2006 and runs till 2020. That for DMK started in 1997 and runs till 2022. It also operates monopoly Duty Free concessions at Chiang man, Phuket and Hat Yai airports where there was no prior bidding. And it operates four in-town duty free stores with airport pick ups
The company itself is notoriously secretive. We know from media reports last year that the state instituted law suits against King Power and the AOT for corruption. The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases dismissed the case two months ago. The AOT gave no help to the government in its case. Its President claimed publicly that if King Power's contract was terminated for any reason prior to its end date, it could lead to a claim for major compensation.
It's perhaps interesting to note that when Hong Kong changed its Duty Free operator last year, the new company reduced prices on almost all of its liquor products. It also made every purchaser an offer (useful no doubt only to regular travellers - but there are many of these in Hong Kong). It promises that if products are found cheaper at rival airports, purchasers will be refunded twice the difference in price.
Time to end King Power's rip-off pricing!