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Wednesday, Aug 30, 2006

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Curbs on duty-free items on board aircraft to go

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Shop must get security check done, deliver item to passenger only at gate

New norms
Items to be given to passengers only at the gate from which the flight is departing.
Shop owners told to stop sale 30 minutes before departure time.
But ban on carrying liquids and gels in the handbags still remains in force.

New Delhi , Aug. 29

The Government is to ease restriction on duty-free items that can be carried on board an aircraft from September 1, the Civil Aviation Secretary, Mr Ajay Prasad, said here on Tuesday.

"From midnight Thursday a passenger would be allowed to carry duty-free items on board the aircraft. However, in a departure from the past, now the duty-free item purchased by the passenger would be handed over only at the gate from which the flight is departing. In order to ensure that a flight is not delayed due to duty-free items sold not reaching the gate in time, we have advised the duty-free shops to stop sale of goods 30 minutes before the departure of the flight," Mr Prasad said.

It would be the responsibility of the shop owner to get the bag containing the item checked at the security check points and have them delivered to the passenger at the gate, officials said. However, the ban on carrying liquids and gels in the handbags still remains in force, the Secretary added.

The Government banned passengers from carrying duty-free items on board the aircraft on August 11, a day after the British authorities foiled a bid to blow up aircraft in mid-flight between Britain and America.

To benefit shop owners

The latest relaxation should benefit the duty-free shop operators who are said to be incurring huge losses since the ban was imposed.

"The Government does not have figures for losses suffered by all the duty-free operators. However, the Indian Tourism Development Corporation has estimated that it alone was suffering a daily loss of Rs 10 lakh," Mr Prasad said.

APIS at Delhi

Meanwhile, the Government has introduced the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) as a pilot project at Delhi airport.

"At present, the project is being implemented only by Air India and involves certain details of the passenger being made available to the immigration officer before the flight lands here.

"APIS can cut down on the time a passenger spends clearing immigration. We will evaluate how the project is working before implementing it in other Indian airports," Mr Prasad said.

The data captured under the APIS includes the name, age, gender and passport details of the passenger, airline officials said.

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