The pilot programme will maximise duty-free shopping opportunities by enhancing the VAT refund process at Milan’s Malpensa and Linate airports


The innovative Avolta x utu programme offers travellers 25% more spending power by upcycling city-side VAT refunds, aiming to unlock significant airside duty-free revenue growth. It will transform VAT refunds into duty-free vouchers redeemable in Milan. While the pilot is focused on Avolta’s Milan duty-free operations, if successful, it will be rolled out across the Swiss firm’s global network of stores.

utu VAT refund app
The app is available on all smartphones utu

By erasing the line between cityside and airside shopping, the programme maximises the potential of VAT refunds, offering travellers increased spending power, which they can access instantly through utu’s dedicated web solution, which is available on all smartphones. Tourists will continue to complete the standard tax refund process at the airport prior to departure. In the global travel retail sector, an estimated US$ 4 billion in VAT refunds processed at airports goes unclaimed each year. The Avolta x utu programme will be the first to capture this market at scale, capturing VAT refunds that might otherwise leave the country.

Maurus Lienhard, chief strategy and transformation officer at Avolta, said: “utu’s proposition puts the traveller at the centre by providing additional value and enhancing their journey; this fits perfectly within our Destination 2027 strategy. We are excited to launch utu in a major European travel hub where tax-free shopping plays a key role, and look forward to sharing its benefits with our customers.”

The programme launch will be supported by a strategic marketing campaign featuring a mix of digital promotions with in-person engagement. Avolta x utu ambassadors will be placed in key locations in the Milan city centre and within Malpensa Airport T1 to educate travellers and drive awareness of the offering.

If successful, the programme could be rolled out across Avolta’s global network
If successful, the programme could be rolled out across Avolta’s global network Avolta