Liquor May Be Banned in Airports

MTA woman standing in a VIP lounge at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. New rules may ban the sale of hard alcohol.

Transportation prosecutors are threatening to close bars and restaurants in Moscow airports that continue to serve hard alcohol, expanding the use of a law that bans the sale of liquor in crowded and dangerous places.

Since early September, prosecutors have been making frequent visits to restaurants and bars in the city’s airports, officials from a major alcohol producer and an international vodka company said.

The inspectors are citing Article 16 of the law on state regulation of the production and sale of alcohol, which prohibits the sale of beverages with an alcohol content above 15 percent in crowded or dangerous areas, which would include airports.

The checks in Sheremetyevo have already finished, but they are still under way at Domodedovo and Vnukovo, industry sources told Vedomosti.

The establishments were given 60 days to eliminate the violations. If hard alcohol sales continue, the restaurants will be closed for three months. A senior assistant to the Moscow area transportation prosecutors confirmed that the checks were taking place.

Representatives of Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo operator East Line said the restaurants had nothing to do with the airport and were simply renting the space they occupy.

Sheremetyevo’s largest food-services operator is Aeropit-Servis, which has 12 restaurants, bars and cafes that serve more than 10,000 people per day in Sheremetyevo’s terminals, according to its web site.

A lawyer for Aeropit-Servis declined comment. An executive at Aeropit-Vnukovo said he was unaware of the transportation prosecutors’ complaints.

Sheremetyevo’s Terminal 2 has a T.G.I. Friday’s, which belongs to Rosinter Restaurants Holding. Dmitry Timofeyev, director of Rosinter’s legal department, would neither confirm nor deny the information about the checks, saying there were so many inspections that it was difficult to remember everything that they demand.

The company has a license from the Moscow region’s consumer goods and services ministry to sell alcohol in Sheremetyevo 2, but it will stop selling liquor if requested, he said.

Some 30 percent of a restaurant’s revenue can come from alcohol, said Mikhail Zelman, general manger of the restaurant company Arpikom, which operates brands including Goodman Steak House. In an airport, the figure could be even higher because of the pricey alcohol they tend to sell.

The sources speaking about the inspections said the prosecutors were not opposed to banning alcohol sales in duty-free as well, but they had not yet found any reason to do so.

There is no ban on alcohol sales in airplanes, which are not in the law’s list of crowded and dangerous places. There are no limits on the sale or consumption of alcohol for Aeroflot business-class passengers, regardless of the strength, spokeswoman Irina Dannenberg said.

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