SFO commission approves relaxed rent for certain shops

Acknowledging that a federal ban on liquids and gels hit some airport retailers particularly hard this summer, San Francisco International Airport officials are granting some businesses a reprieve on rent.

The Airport Commission on Tuesday approved a waiver of 47 days of rent, from Aug. 10 to Sept. 25, for two retailers in Terminal 3, a domestic terminal. The waiver means $29,000 in savings for The Body Shop and $7,000 for Wine Wisdom.

After federal officials in August learned of a possible terrorist plot hinting at the use of explosives disguised as everyday liquids and gels, the Transportation Security Administration handed down a blanket ban on such items in carry-on luggage.

The ban, which also forced travelers to empty their coffee cups and water bottles before boarding, hit some stores in the airport that sold mainly liquids and gels especially hard. Wine Wisdom employee Yousoff Banglee estimated in September that business at his shop, which is located behind the security checkpoint, had dropped by as much as 90 percent at one point during the heightened security alert. Other employees at Wine Wisdom declined comment Tuesday, and The Body Shop did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The airport estimates that overall business dropped at The Body Shop by 28 percent and at Wine Wisdom by 44 percent for the durationof the ban.

“The initial broad prohibition had a detrimental effect on the sales of [The Body Shop] and Wine Wisdom, and we are recommending rent relief,” Airport Director John Martin said in a memorandum.

SFO offered a similar reprieve for shops airportwide in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when air travel dipped dramatically, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said. During that time, rents were adjusted based on the amount of airport passengers. It took approximately two years for those shops to return to their pre-9/11 business levels, McCarron said.

In September, the TSA adjusted its ban on liquids, allowing these products in 3-ounce containers, provided they were sealed in plastic ziplock bags. Passengers were also then allowed to again bring beverages such as bottled water and coffee onto planes, provided they were purchased at stores located inside security checkpoints.

There are nearly 50 shops at SFO, most of them located behind security checkpoints, and nearly 40 food and beverage stores. Rent is based on square footage of the shops. The Body Shop pays $275,001 in annual rent and Wine Wisdom pays $87,200, McCarron said.

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Nico Melendez said his agency has not received any requests for any kind of compensation following reduction in business.

What’s allowed onboard, what’s not

» Beverages purchased inside security checkpoints are allowed. Beverages larger than 3 ounces that are bought from home or purchased pre-security are not allowed.

» Alcohol purchased post-security is allowed in carry-on baggage.

The following items must be in containers measuring 3 ounces or less, and sealed in a quart-sized ziplock bag:

» All creams and lotions, including Neosporin or first-aid creams and ointments, topical or rash creams and ointments, suntan lotions, moisturizers, etc.

» Bubble bath balls, bath oils or moisturizers.

* All the listed items are allowed in checked baggage. Liquids and liquid medication for those with health conditions are allowed.

Source: TSA Web site

tramroop@examiner.com

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