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Losses force SM Duty Free to withdraw from Incheon Int'l Airport
SM Duty Free will withdraw its outlets from Incheon International Airport on Aug. 31 due to pandemic-triggered business setbacks.
Licenses for duty-free shops at the Incheon International Airport will expire next month.
SM Duty Free CEO Kim Tae-hoon expects the duty-free business to continue to deteriorate based on the number of airport users and the government's policy.
Observers say that SM Duty Free's decision may spark similar withdrawals by other duty-free operators.
The country's leading duty-free shop operators Lotte Hotel and Hotel Shilla may follow suit, depending on its talks over lease fees with Incheon International Airport Corp.
The two firms have asked for a sharp cut in lease fees.
Lotte Hotel and Hotel Shilla won bids to run liquor and tobacco sections in the No. 1 terminal but gave up their license in April due to sales decline.
In April, the combined sales of South Korea's duty-free stores plummeted below one trillion won for the first time in four years.