World Duty Free which previously operated from space one at the arrival and departure terminal restricted areas at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is at the risk of having to close shop for good in Sri Lanka, a business official told the Nation.
According to the official, who wished to remain anonymous, at the retender for the second space, both bidders Dufry AG which operates World Duty Free and DFS India which is a fully owned subsidiary of Flemingo Duty Free International had offered a concession fee of 43%.
Due to this, the tender team informed both parties that they will be given a final decision within a week’s time as to which party the shop will be awarded to following a technical evaluation.
The official however alleged that authorities were facilitating Flemingo to establish a monopoly within the BIA by taking both core category shop spaces under their wings.
At the first round of bidding which took place earlier this year, World Duty Free lost the bid to Flemingo Duty Free Sri Lanka coming second out of five bidders. Rightfully, he charged, the second space has to be offered to the second highest bidder which is Dufry (World Duty Free).
As it stands, over 300 members of the staff of World Duty Free at the BIA are in limbo but hoping that they will be called back as soon as their employer secures a shop space. World Duty Free has been in Sri Lanka for over 20 years since 1996. During the first round of bidding the larger space was awarded to Flemingo at a concession fee of 40%.
The second space for which the current operator is being contemplated on is 30,060 sq ft and 2,665 sq ft respectively in the departure and arrival restricted areas.
Some staff members of the World Duty Free met President Maithripala Sirisena in March to make their representation but his response had been negative. He is reported to have told them that there was nothing that he could do about their plight.
The Nation’s attempt to contact Airport and Aviation Services Sri Lanka (AASL) for a comment on the matter proved futile.