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COVID-19: Sydney Airport retail ghost town

COVID-19: Sydney Airport retail ghost town

Given that Australians on the whole are banned from international flying, I havn’t had much cause to pop-into Sydney’s International Airport, let alone the post passport control retail and lounge areas.

a glass table in a building
Looking through the screened off area towards Heinemann’s duty free in Sydney Airports Terminal 1

I havn’t, but our international guest, post pandemic and residency qualifying stay, who left the country a few days ago, did. And here is his photographic essay.

a sign in a building

The main retail area is screened off and then more barriers to the escalator that usually takes you up to the Qantas Lounge area, including the fabulous First Class Lounge. All the Qantas international lounges are closed at the moment.

Shops from the high end boutiques, to the more pedestrian food outlets are all closed, including:

a glass window with a sign
Saint Laurent, stripped of goods, collecting dust.
a store front with a sign
Kate Spade, nothing but bagged placeholders.
a sign on a building
Even R. M Williams is denuded of goods
a sign with a plant on it
Nothing to eat here.
a glass door with a shelf and boxes on it
Burberry bags – paper bags I mean.
a bar with chairs and tables
Not a drop to drink

The place looks like and auction store room for pre-loved retail displays.

United Kingdom to abandon Duty Free

The United Kingdom is abandoning duty free sales, and its VAT tax refund scheme starting 1 January 2021, except for Alcohol and tobacco – strange choices? That means that Heathrow amongst others will probably look a lot like the Sydney Airport retail zone long after COVID-19 is just a memory. What will airports do with all the spare space? Or will they just offer cut-price rents so that they fill with dollar shops and foot & neck massage places?

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

It’s a testament to how much airports have become shopping malls. When you see all this unused space and these abandoned facilities, you realise what little space is devoted to the main purpose of airports, the boarding of aircraft, and the comfort of travellers.

Even though I am sometimes tempted, I basically loathe the shopping mall aspect of modern-day airports. I wonder if that aspect of airports and the money it earns airport owners have forever been changed by the pandemic?

I see a photographic series in the making ‘abandoned airport retail’ like those other abandoned mansions or buildings, or factories collections.

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