Free of duty to report accurately?

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

If the politicians can’t get it right and the journalists can’t get it right… well you know you’re in the UK.

Since the 10 August terror alert we reckon the overwhelming majority of articles in the UK consumer media on what can be carried through airport security and onboard an aircraft have been inaccurate.

That is a damning indictment of British reporting standards but it also underlines the need for a communications campaign on behalf of the duty free industry. While a superbly rigorous lobbying effort, led by the ETRC and Airport Council International, is now taking shape to combat the impact of the new European aviation security regulations, an equally great effort we feel needs to be made on the communications front.

In recent weeks The Moodie Report has highlighted article after article that has got it wrong, misleading consumers and undoubtedly damaging sales into the bargain. This week things got worse, with several papers carrying an interview with Scottish Labour party MEP David Martin, who warned of “misery for thousands of international travellers” during the festive season.

He claimed that the European Commission had “confirmed” that someone flying into an EU airport from outside the EU and then transiting to another EU location would lose any liquid products they were carrying. Wrong.

A report in the Evening News of Scotland quoting Mr Martin said: “Someone flying back for Christmas from Canada and landing at Frankfurt to connnect with a flight to the UK would find whisky or perfume being carried as hand luggage would be confiscated.” Wrong.

While meaning well – and commendably trying to defend the interests of producers (especially of Scotch whisky), consumers and duty free retailers – Mr Martin actually misled the public. So did the reporter for the newspaper who concluded: “Under the rules, liquids are only allowed on planes in containers with a capacity of up to 100ml”. Wrong.

Only liquids of over 100ml would be confiscated in the transit scenario referred to. Most fragrance bottles are 100ml or less. And liquids over that amount can be purchased post-security by all passengers without threat of confiscation – other than those transiting through an EU, EEA or Swiss airport having started their journey outside those areas. Point to point passengers can continue to buy their duty free as normal.

Mr Martin notes sagely: “I am worried about the impact this [allegedly blanket confiscation – Ed] will have both on individuals and the Scotch whisky industry.”

We’re more worried about the impact such misleading reporting will have on the duty free industry, the fragrances business and the reputation of the media for providing accurate information.

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