Thai-based Bangkok Airways is looking to get into the duty-free business, and it will be partnering with South Korea’s top duty free company.

As the managing group of Thailand’s airports – Airports of Thailand (AoT) – is seeking tenders for retailers at the country’s airports, Bangkok Airways is teaming up with LOTTE Duty Free for two contracts to run duty free stores include at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Along with operating duty free stores in Suvarnabhumi, if Bangkok Airways and LOTTE are awarded the rights the contracts would also cover airports in Phuket, Hat Yai, and Chiang Mai. It would also add to Bangkok Airway’s portfolio as it already operates duty-free stores in Koh Samui and Luang Prabang.

With the bids, Bangkok Airways is looking to continue diversifying its ventures citing lower profits from its commercial flights. “Over the past three to four years, profits from our core business (airline and airport) gradually declined due to higher cost, changes in customer behaviour and a tough business environment. The company is eyeing non-aviation business,” said Bangkok Airways president Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth during a recent press briefing.

Both Bangkok Airways and LOTTE will be met with stiff competition in the bidding process including the Central Group/Duty Free Singapore, Minor International, Royal Orcchid Sheraton Thailand, and King Power Duty Free.

Since it opened its first shop in 1980, LOTTE Duty Free’s operates its outlets at Seoul-Incheon as well as other major malls and locations in South Korea. It opened its first international location at Jakarta International Airport in 2012, and now operates outlets in Japan, Guam, Vietnam, as well as Thailand. The lone Thailand location is in downtown Bangkok.

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