DUTY FREE DISPUTE
King Power International Group is defying the order of Airports of Thailand (AoT) for it to remove all duty-free outlets from Suvarnabhumi, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai airports in 60 days. Group deputy chairman Chulchit Bunyaketu said yesterday there would be no relocation and the AoT board, which gave the order on Thursday, should be aware that it should not make any movement now that the dispute between the two parties was in the courts.
''In the future, if King Power is to remove any outlets, that will mean that the lawsuits must have already been finalised and King Power is the loser. In the next 60 days, if any party happens to remove the outlets, King Power must seek court protection,'' he said.
The AoT board on Thursday confirmed its previous decision that King Power had acquired the rights illegitimately to extend its duty-free shop contract for the airports.
King Power had asked AoT on Jan 13, 2004, to extend its duty free shop contract due to expire in 2005. The contract covered its duty free shops only at Don Mueang airport and the regional airports of AoT, but King Power assumed it covered Suvarnabhumi, which took over from Don Mueang in September last year.
It successfully convinced authorities of this at the time and expanded its duty free business to the new airport.
Mr Chulchit said the latest move by the AoT board did not surprise him because it had repeatedly tried to drive King Power out of the airports.
However, he said he did not understand why AoT dared make the move given that the dispute was still in the courts.
King Power earlier sued AoT for 58 billion baht in the Civil Court over its decision to terminate its contract. In the meantime, AoT asked the Administrative Court to order King Power to leave the airports.
With regard to international practice, Mr Chulchit said parties who are in dispute would wait for a court ruling.
He also complained that the ongoing issue had caused creditors to cancel some six billion baht of their credit facilities to King Power.
However, Mr Chulchit welcomed AoT president designate Chana U. Sathaporn who is reportedly ready to work out a compromise with King Power for the sake of the national interest