The European Commission recently issued a formal notice to the government for failures in implementing the EU Airport Charges Directive. The commission contested the consultation procedure that aimed to regulate charges at five major Italian airports through contract agreements between airport management and the Italian Civil Aviation Authority. The government is working on its formal comments regarding the alleged non-compliance.
The Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) recently issued a new regulation on remotely piloted aerial vehicles, which supersedes the existing regulation in that regard. ENAC makes a distinction between remotely piloted aircraft systems, which are subject to the provisions of the Navigation Code, and model aircraft, which are exempt from the code's provisions.
A recent Constitutional Court judgment established a fundamental rule for the implementation of a regional tax on aircraft noise. The Lazio Region argued that tax on aircraft noise is a matter under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Italian regions. However, according to the court, the guidelines fixed at a national level play an important role in coordinating the implementation of the tax on aircraft noise region by region.
The Competition Authority recently fined low-cost air carrier Ryanair €550,000 for unfair commercial practices, following an investigation opened in June 2014. The investigation arose from complaints by passengers and consumer associations over major difficulties and exorbitant costs when trying to contact Ryanair regarding the fulfilment of contracts.
The Senate has passed into law the Sblocca Italia Decree, which contains the new Salva Malpensa legislation. The new legislation completely restates the article of the former Salva Malpensa Decree, intended to develop air transport to and from Italian airports in order to support the industry and promote the country's economic growth in general.
The Italian Civil Aviation Authority has issued a revised circular on the operation of extra-EU scheduled services, which regulates the authorisation and designation procedure for carriers in accordance with international air transport agreements. This attempt to enhance the regulatory framework was influenced by the challenges experienced by the air transport industry in recent years.
The Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) recently issued the Regulation on Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicles, which represents one of the first pieces of legislation to provide a legal framework for the operation of drones. The use of this kind of aircraft has increased dramatically recently. ENAC's initiative thus fills the regulatory gap within which these professional and commercial operations have been taking place.
The Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) has issued a circular to implement Article 802(2) of the Navigation Code, which provides that the ENAC can prevent the departure of aircraft when relevant taxes, charges and fees due by the operator are outstanding. Notice of any such non-payment is given to the ENAC by the relevant airport management company, the Italian Agency for Air Traffic Control or Eurocontrol.
The Italian Air Carrier Association recently challenged the authorisation granted to Emirates in respect of slots and traffic rights to extend its daily flights from Dubai to Milan onwards to New York, alleging that it breached the Chicago Convention, Italian law and the bilateral agreement between Italy and the United Arab Emirates. The court accepted this challenge and nullified the authorisation, although Emirates' appeal is pending.
The Italian Competition Authority recently issued two decisions against leading European low-cost airlines Ryanair and easyJet, fining them €850,000 and €200,000 respectively, for misleading commercial practices. The authority held that both airlines had failed to provide adequate information in respect of the optional purchase of travel insurance for prospective flight cancellations.
Two recent cases of 'fifth freedom' rights granted by the Italian Civil Aviation Authority to foreign carriers have characterised the mood of the Italian air transport sector of late. In both cases domestic competitors have challenged the relevant authorisations before the courts. The cases concern the rights of Emirates and Qatar Airways to perform long-haul routes to the United States while flying through Milan Malpensa Airport.
Both the Italian carriers' association and the Italian airport association have raised concerns over the effects of the new regional tax on aircraft noise. The Italian Competition Authority recently responded to these concerns by issuing a communication to Parliament and the government under the Competition and Fair Trading Act regarding the competition distortions caused by the varied implementation of the tax.
Law 342/2000 established a tax on aircraft noise, mainly with the aim of financing airport monitoring systems and anti-pollution measures, as well as indemnifying communities living near airports. However, the regional laws implementing the tax have been contested by both the Italian air carriers' association and the Italian airport association, which have underlined the negative impact of the tax on the air transport market.
A planning agreement has finally been approved between the Italian Civil Aviation Authority and Società Aeroporti di Roma, which manages the two Rome airports. However, the new regulatory framework has failed to secure a widespread positive consensus, and the Italian air carriers' association has challenged the agreement before the Administrative Court of Rome.
The government recently approved a law amending financial regulations for the aviation sector, which the local media has named the 'anti-Ryanair rule'. This is because the measure is thought to target the Irish airline, which, despite operating an important part of the Italian transportation market within Italian territory, is not subject to certain Italian laws and regulations on tax, labour and passenger rights.
The first application by an Italian airline has been filed for the concordato preventivo in continuità procedure, a new form of arrangement with creditors which has similarities to US Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The new procedure could be an effective way to assist airlines in restructuring their business and regaining competitiveness in the market.
After months of negotiations the planning agreement between the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) and SEA Group has entered into force. The new system provides an investment plan, expected traffic forecast and the fee trend to ensure that the management company can cover costs. The agreement could represent a benchmark for all agreements to be signed by ENAC with the largest Italian airports.
The Italian press recently reported that Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair had overtaken Alitalia as the largest carrier in Italy. Although Ryanair denies this, the coverage has raised the question of whether the airline has a de facto permanent business establishment in Italy and is therefore subject to certain provisions of Italian law on tax obligations, treatment of employees, passenger rights and regulatory issues
In line with a worldwide trend in the air transport sector, Alitalia has identified Blue Panorama Airlines SpA and Wind Jet SpA as potential merger targets. A national consumer association has already asked the Antitrust Authority to refuse clearance, alleging that Alitalia would be in a position to apply predatory pricing strategies to reduce significant competition on certain routes.
The Antitrust Authority has recently examined a merger between two Italian carriers which resulted in the consolidation of their flight operations under joint control. It analysed either geographical or product markets for all services involved, including scheduled flights, non-scheduled flights, cargo services and tour operator services.