KOLKATA: The city airport now has its first liquor off-shop operating inside the security hold area of the domestic departure terminal selling liquor at prices similar to what is available at off-shops in the rest of the city. The airport already had duty-free liquor shops, but in the international terminal. But since September end, two liquor shops had begun operation in the domestic wing.

While one near boarding gate 14 is doing brisk business with flyers buying bottles before boarding flights, another outlet near gate 2 on the arrival level has shut shop despite good sales.
At the store, whiskey sells the most, followed by vodka.

Kolkata airport officials said the liquor store had become a hit with flyers, particularly those travelling to states where liquor is more expensive. The 40sqm or 430sqft stall — operated by Ludhiana-based firm Bajaj Spirits — started business after getting a licence from the Excise department.

“There was a demand from passengers for a liquor store in the domestic terminal. But we could not invite bids for it as the state Excise policy did not allow liquor to be sold in bottles inside the airport. The international wing has duty-free stores that sell liquor as it does not require an Excise license. After the Excise department made the change, we floated tenders in November 2022 for two outlets in the domestic wing. The tender was won by Bajaj Spirits. It started operations in September, in time to catch the festive rush,” an airport official said.

Though any liquid item beyond 100ml is not allowed in the security hold area, purchases made in the security hold area are allowed on flight. These include liquor and non-alcohol beverages. However, given the restrictions on consuming alcohol on domestic flights, the bottles are handed over in tamper-proof carry bags. Each flyer is allowed a maximum of two litres of alcohol on a flight.

Although liquor is not being sold duty-free at the shop in the domestic wing, passengers from other states are still interested in buying alcohol from Bengal as the price of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) was slashed by 20%-25% following a reduction in Excise duty.

High-end imported liquor or bottled-in-origin (BIOs) is also sold at lower prices compared to other cities. A 750ml bottle of a major single-malt whisky brand sold in Bengal at Rs 4,100 costs Rs 5,800 in Bengaluru, Rs 6,700 in Hyderabad and Rs 6,900 in Mumbai.

Airport officials said they will again float a tender for the 50sqm or 538sqft store on the arrival level that was shut after Bhopal-based Smoking Liquor Pvt Ltd gave up the licence.
In the international wing, there are two duty-free liquor stores. Flemingo Duty Free, which operates them, has been allotted two more spaces.

(the above news was originally posted on the times of india)