Aer Rianta open a Duty Free shop at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

Travellers in the western world take airport duty free shopping for granted, but nothing like this particular shop has ever been seen before in the Soviet Union.

For Aeroflot, the national Soviet airline, this is a step towards modernisation of their business, bringing it further into line with new economic standards set by the Gorbachev regime.  

For Ireland, it represents a toehold by a state company in an emerging international market.  Three million passengers pass through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport every year, and plans are under discussion to extend duty free shopping to airports in Leningrad, Yalta, Kiev and as far away as Tashkent in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. 

Quality Irish products are sitting on shelves side by side with Russian vodka, Leningrad porcelain and crafts from all over the Soviet Union.  This bodes well for the Irish export market, according to Aer Rianta’s Liam Skelly, 

I think that we are in at the start of what’s going to be a great breakthrough for Ireland.

The Soviets like to trade with people they know, and the Shannon connection gave Aer Rianta an advantage over other business rivals.  Liam Skelly acknowledges the good business relationship between Ireland and the Soviet Union, 

Well we have known them since 1980 and we have found that they are more than honourable and that it’s easy to do business with them.

In performing the official opening, Transport Minister John Wilson said the Moscow deal was a window of opportunity through which he hoped other Irish companies, public and private, would enter.

It is setting an example for anybody who wants to progress the Irish economy, because that’s in fact what it’s going to do.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 13 May 1988.  The reporter is Michael Walsh.