Aviation updates

European Union

ECJ finds that bird strikes may constitute extraordinary circumstances
Studio Pierallini
  • European Union
  • 23 May 2018

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently found that – in the context of Article 5 of EU Regulation 261/2004, which can exempt air carriers from their obligation to compensate passengers – a collision between an aircraft and a bird may constitute extraordinary circumstances. The ECJ adopted a divergent approach in its decision that appears to disregard the EU advocate general's 2016 opinion regarding the same case.


France

Contributed by Odi-se Avocats
French Aircraft Registry: mortgagees must now elect domicile in Evry
  • France
  • 22 January 2020

The French Civil Aviation Authority's Registration Office recently moved from Paris to Athis-Mons. As a result, aircraft mortgage beneficiaries must elect domicile in the jurisdiction of the Evry Tribunal Judiciaire. This will not prove too difficult for French banks, which may elect domicile at a branch in the Court of Evry's territorial jurisdiction; however, foreign lenders and non-banking mortgagees will have to find someone (eg, a notary) who will accept such election of domicile on their behalf.

Manufacturers' liability in wake of AirAsia crash
  • France
  • 01 May 2019

The Court of Cassation recently rendered a decision concerning an AirAsia Airbus A320 which crashed in the Java Sea in December 2014, killing all crew and passengers on board. Notably, this decision reaffirms that, under French law, a manufacturer's liability cannot be limited or excluded on the grounds that another party or some other cause contributed to the damage if the product was defective and caused the damage.

Leisure drones: new rules for telepilots
  • France
  • 13 March 2019

French drone legislation was recently updated to require telepilots who fly drones for leisure purposes to undergo specific training. In addition, Law 2016-1428 on enhancing drone operational safety recently entered into force. Among other things, the law requires telepilots who fly drones weighing more than 800g to undergo mandatory training and requires certain civil drones to be registered.

Lifting of currency restrictions: impact on aviation industry
  • France
  • 19 December 2018

In 2016 French contract law was restructured to render it more predictable and commercially attractive. The reform extended to the currency limitation rule, which was considered both restrictive and unclear. A recently passed implementing law is expected to provide greater flexibility for aviation transactions, as the currency limitations no longer apply to transactions between professionals where payment in a foreign currency is common practice in the relevant industry.

Ryanair aircraft arrested in France
  • France
  • 12 December 2018

While developing its French network, Ryanair received support from various regional airports, including the Mixed Syndicate of Charente Airports (SMAC). The European Commission ultimately found this financial support to be illegal and, as a result, Ryanair had to repay the illicit subsidy to the SMAC. When Ryanair failed to make the payment in full, the SMAC requested the Bordeaux court to order the arrest of a Ryanair aircraft on its arrival at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport.


Germany

Contributed by Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein
Airport charges take flight: airlines challenge fee structure
  • Germany
  • 05 February 2020

In a recent Federal Administrative Court case – in which the German court referred questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) – Deutsche Lufthansa AG achieved its goal of defending itself effectively against higher airport charges and underlined the possibility of a judicial review to examine the appropriateness of airport charges. However, the ECJ decision clarifies that, for the time being, there is no scope for free pricing under the EU Airport Charges Directive and thus no contractual freedom for airport users.

Security controls outside scope of airlines
  • Germany
  • 15 January 2020

A recent Erding Local Court judgment concerned a compensation claim after four passengers missed their flight due to a security alert at the airport. The court decided that there was no entitlement to compensation because there had been no refusal of carriage by the airline. Given the growth of passenger numbers and the resulting need for extra security staff, the decision sets a positive and correct precedent for the benefit of airlines operating in Germany.

Q&A on pitfalls and red flags when dealing with German MROs
  • Germany
  • 23 October 2019

As airlines must constantly strive to reduce maintenance costs, it is prudent to carefully review and negotiate contracts with maintenance, repair and overhaul organisations (MROs). As MROs often insist that contracts must be governed by the law of their home jurisdiction, this article addresses a selection of important issues that must be considered when negotiating so-called 'time and material' or 'power by the hour' contracts with German MROs.

Discounted tariffs: change of legal position?
  • Germany
  • 16 October 2019

A recent Frankfurt am Main Local Court decision is a useful reminder that in the event of an assertion of claims under the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation, the associated booking conditions must be considered when determining claim validity. Ultimately, travellers with access to corporate customer tariffs between their employer and the airline cannot claim compensation if their flight – whether for professional or private purposes – is delayed or cancelled.

Air fares can be displayed in multiple currencies
  • Germany
  • 18 September 2019

The Federal Court of Justice recently requested a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice on the question of whether airlines are in principle entitled to choose the currencies in which their air fares are listed. Under EU law, airlines that offer flights departing from EU airports must list passenger fares; however, whether airlines have the right to choose the currencies of said listings required further clarity.


International

Revised limits of liability under Montreal Convention
Augusta Abogados
  • International
  • 12 February 2020

New limits of liability under the Montreal Convention 1999 recently came into force following the International Civil Aviation Organisation's review procedure under Article 24 of the convention. Airlines should update their general conditions on carriage, information for passengers and insurance policies, when needed, so that they reflect the revised limits of liability.

Letters of credit in aircraft leasing: a refresher
Vedder Price PC
  • International
  • 15 January 2020

Letters of credit are often issued in aircraft leasing transactions as an alternative to the provision of a cash security deposit and, less frequently, the obligation to pay maintenance reserves in cash. In an airline bankruptcy scenario, it is important to understand the differences that exist between different forms of letter of credit and some of the challenges that may arise for an enforcing lessor or financier.

Reducing aircraft emissions on global scale
  • International
  • 15 August 2018

Aviation is among the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, which has given rise to environmental concerns over their global impact and effect on air quality, particularly at ground level. In an effort to tackle aviation's increasing contribution to climate change, international organisations – such as the United Nations and the International Civil Aviation Organisation – are taking steps to reduce global aviation emissions and develop measures with worldwide effect.

Liberalising aviation in Africa: overview of single air transport market
  • International
  • 11 April 2018

In January 2018 the single African air transport market (SAATM) was formally launched. Its principal objective stems from the Yamoussoukro Decision, which provided for the full liberalisation of intra-African air transport services in terms of market access. The SAATM is a welcome development; however, to reap the full potential of the initiative, the African Union must do all that is necessary to ensure that the resources, infrastructure and capacity required to grow the aviation sector are available.


Israel

Contributed by Levitan, Sharon & Co
Lightning damage to aircraft on incoming flights – Aviation Services Law special circumstances
  • Israel
  • 13 November 2019

In most cases, flights are operated by aircraft that arrive at an airport from a previous flight. As such, flights are sometimes delayed or cancelled due to a delay or cancellation of the previous flight. The Tel Aviv District Court recently denied a motion for leave to appeal filed by a passenger whose claim regarding the cancellation of his flight due to lightning damage to the aircraft which had occurred during the previous flight was denied by the Tel Aviv Small Claims Court.

What is considered a cancelled flight under the Aviation Services Law?
  • Israel
  • 14 August 2019

The Small Claims Court recently rejected two passengers' claim that their flight should be considered a cancelled flight under the Aviation Services Law. The case examined whether an airline should pay compensation for a missed connecting flight when passengers book two flights from the same company with a short connection time.

Courts underline passengers' duty to arrive at departure gate on time
  • Israel
  • 29 May 2019

Under the Aviation Services Law (Compensation and Assistance for Flight Cancellation or Change of Conditions), passengers who are denied boarding are entitled to compensation. However, in two recent district court judgments concerning passengers that were denied boarding, the courts found that passengers must arrive at the boarding gate on time. As this duty had not been fulfilled in either case, the airlines were not obliged to pay compensation.

When are technical malfunctions considered special circumstances?
  • Israel
  • 27 February 2019

The Beit Shean Small Claims Court recently declined a claim for compensation under the Aviation Services Law due to a delayed flight. The plaintiff had booked a return flight from Tel Aviv to Amsterdam with Arkia Airlines, which arrived in Amsterdam late after a nine-and-a-half-hour delay due to a technical fault. The court dismissed the claim and found that Arkia had proved that the technical malfunction had been caused by a fault in the aircraft's wing shelving, which had been beyond the airline's control.

Aviation Services Law does not apply to domestic flights outside Israel
  • Israel
  • 28 November 2018

The Tel Aviv Small Claims Court recently declined a passenger's claim for compensation against Qantas and Worldwide Travel and Tourism Ltd, concluding that as the flight in question was a domestic flight within New Zealand, Israeli law did not apply. The court stated that a 'flight operator' is defined in Clause 1 of the Aviation Services Law as an operator that operates flights to and from Israel. Therefore, the law does not apply when connecting flights to Israel are operated by a different airline.