AviationKorea's Lotte Duty Free believes it has a novel solution for its VIP shoppers.

How to shop duty free without flying anywhere

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Lotte Duty Free's pact with Korean air alliance to operate "non-landing tourist flights" proves to be a winning one.
Lotte Duty Free's pact with Korean air alliance to operate "non-landing tourist flights" proves to be a winning one. Photo Credit: Getty Images/ake1150sb

From 'cruises to nowhere' to 'flights to nowhere', travel businesses are finding all ways to get consumers to open up their pockets again amid the global travel pause.

Cue Lotte Duty Free's tie-up with airlines to allow its grounded customers a chance to enjoy travel retail perks — without actually needing to land in another country.

All that's needed is for these non-landing tourist flights to fly slightly out of Korean airspace and over a nearby Japanese island to instantly qualify travel-starved passengers for duty-free shopping.

Apart from receiving up to KRW600,000 (US$532) of credits in Lotte's loyalty scheme, shopaholics can get up to 60% discounts in their shopping bags.

This has proved to be a winning alliance.

Lotte said that "the average amount spend per customer by non-landing tourist flight passengers was 2.5 times higher than that of Korean passengers before Covid-19".

From 11 permits issued December last year, the number of approved flights went up to 17 in January, and again in February. It is estimated that duty-free sales for Lotte via these flights went up by some 70% month-on-month in January 2021.

So far, airlines which have partnered with Lotte Duty Free include Air Seoul, Air Busan, T-Way and Jeju Air. Another five flights will be taking off this month.

Next up, joining the bandwagon is South Korea's next biggest duty-free operator, Hotel Shilla — offering 114 seats on two non-landing tourist flights on 23 May and 30 May. This is open to its customers who have spent more than US$550 since 3 May.

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