King Power wins duty-free concession in three more airports

After winning the contracts to operate duty-free shops and the commercial zone at Suvarnabhumi Airport on 31 May, King Power Duty Free Co has now won the contract to run duty-free shops at Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Hat Yai airports.

Airports of Thailand Plc (AOT) announced yesterday (10 June) that King Power Duty Free Co is the winning bidder for the operation of duty-free shops at three regional airports – Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Hat Yai – as it offered higher returns than the two other bidders: the Royal Orchid Hotel group and a joint venture between Bangkok Airways and Lotte Duty Free.

AOT Senior Executive Vice President Wichai Bunyu said that the bid committee will propose King Power as the bid winner to the committee in charge of revenue on Wednesday (12 June) and then to the AOT board for approval on 19 June.

King Power has held the concession to operate duty-free shops at Suvarnabhumi Airport since 2006 – the year the airport opened – along with shops in Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Hat Yai airports. On 31 May, it also won the contracts to operate the duty-free shops and the commercial zone at Suvarnabhumi Airport for another 10 years.

Mana Nimitmongkol, Secretary-General of the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand (ACT), said that there are suspicions surrounding the duty-free bid, and that the ACT has protested to the AOT since before the bidding about the unclear rules and the lack of information disclosure.

Mana also said that not only that has the same private company won the bid for all four airports, there is also a possibility that King Power will also win the bid for the remaining projects. These include pick up counters and the Don Muang Airport duty-free shop, the contract for which will expire in September 2022.  King Power may therefore maintain its nationwide monopoly on duty-free shop operations.

The King Power group is listed among those who donated to the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party. According to a list of donors released by the party in January 2019, King Power Suvarnabhumi Co Ltd donated 9 million baht, King Power Duty Free Co Ltd donated 9 million baht, and King Power International Co Ltd donated 6 million baht.