The Airport Operators Association has criticised the axing of VAT-free shopping, blamed for the closure of all 35 Dixon Travel stores in UK airports.
Around 400 staff will be offered alternative jobs with the closure of the stores. Dixons said the shops, said by Sky News to make £20 million annual profits, would shut following the government’s decision to axe tax-free shopping following Brexit.
Dixons said: “We do not expect passenger numbers to recover sufficiently to compensate for the removal of airside tax-free shopping by the UK government from 1 January. This has led to the difficult decision to close this business."
AOA chief executive Karen Dee said the government needed to reverse its decision.
“The UK is now the only country in Europe without airside tax-free shopping,” she said. “Our European competitors get a Brexit benefit by being able to offer UK-bound travellers every opportunity for tax-free shopping while UK airports are left at a significant disadvantage.
“The closure of Dixon Travel stores and the loss of jobs shows the first real-world consequences of the government’s inexplicable decision. These are unlikely to be the last.
“As a tentative restart of aviation draws closer, government should be supporting revenue recovery for airports after the huge losses suffered by airports during the pandemic. Instead, the government has left airports with one hand tied behind their back in the efforts to return to profitability.”