A recent National Commercial Court decision has set a favourable precedent for the aviation industry in Argentina. The court ordered the application of international conventions rather than local law and federal jurisdiction instead of commercial national jurisdiction. This application of international conventions by the Argentine courts is important, as it establishes the limited liability that is generally overlooked by domestic legislation.
A passenger filed a claim against Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA for a breach of contract after her non-stop flight to Europe was modified due to overbooking. The claimant argued that the defendant had fraudulently failed to fulfil its obligations. The Civil and Commercial Court of Appeals rejected the punitive damages awarded by the first-instance court, but increased and maintained compensation for moral and material damages, respectively.
Under Resolution 706-E/2017, airlines must inform the Argentine National Civil Administration (ANAC) of how they will reimburse the discrepancy in airport fees paid by passengers who bought tickets in 2016 and travelled on or after January 1 2017, when a fee reduction was introduced. Most of the affected airlines have now proposed ways to comply with the resolution, which should avoid summary proceedings by ANAC for non-compliance.
Two Argentine consumer associations recently filed a collective action against the majority of airlines operating in Argentina in defence of passenger rights. The claimants alleged that the carriers should reimburse the difference between the airport fee paid by passengers in 2016 when their tickets were issued for flights in 2017 and the new airport fee, which was reduced from January 1 2017.
Following the issuance of Resolution 445/16 by the Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC), the National Directorate of Air Transport was tasked with establishing a system to evaluate airlines' compliance with their flight schedules. The aim is to increase air transportation efficiency for passengers and provide the ANAC with additional tools to evaluate the performance of scheduled carriers.
In the aftermath of the numerous terrorist attacks in the European Union, EU member states agreed that additional measures were needed regarding the use of passenger name record data. Belgium has implemented a legal framework for passenger name record data based on EU legislation. It is hoped that the framework will enable all actors to achieve the main aim of fighting terrorist threats and serious crime.
As part of the Federal Public Service for Mobility and Transport, the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority is responsible for developing and maintaining the Belgian Aviation Safety Programme (BASP) in accordance with EU and international requirements on behalf of the state. The cornerstones of the aviation safety policy set out in the BASP are safety management, continuous improvement and a risk-based approach.
A legal vacuum has been filled with a new royal decree on the use of remote controlled aircraft in Belgian airspace. All market players ‒ from manufacturers to service providers ‒ can now develop their activities within the new legal framework, under which safety is paramount. The new regulatory regime provides the required legal certainty to commercialise and operate drones in Belgium, which has been welcomed by the sector.
The Chicago Convention provides that all aircraft must be registered with a national aviation authority and must carry evidence of this registration in the form of a certificate of registration at all times when in operation. The Belgian Aircraft Registry is an operator registry, meaning that aircraft are registered under the name of the operator only. In order to register an aircraft, an operator must submit documents evidencing its title, ownership or lease over the aircraft.
Legislation governing the civil and commercial use of drones in Belgium is limited, but a recently announced draft royal decree aims to fill the legal vacuum. Under the decree, commercial operators will need to register their activity with the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority and take out specific insurance. However, the decree will not apply to toy drones used by children under 14 or to drones used solely for recreational purposes.
A tax regulation that was promulgated in 2016 has taken effect in ways that are now affecting aircraft lessors and lenders to Brazilian carriers, including by imposing requirements concerning the identification of lessor entities' ultimate beneficial owners and increasing the document disclosure requirements on lessors and lenders in cross-border aircraft finance transactions. While the full impact of the new rules is still unclear, lessors and lenders to Brazilian operators should prepare to comply.
Interchange agreements are relatively new and have been increasingly used by commercial aircraft operators in Brazil. In response to industry requests, the Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency and the Brazilian Aeronautical Registry recently clarified several applicable rules. Due to their novelty, interchange agreements are not always understood in the industry. While such agreements share some similarities with interline and code-share agreements, they have important distinctions.
For the past few months, the Brazilian Aeronautical Registry has experimented with a new electronic filing system that allows parties to file documents electronically 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This system is now operative for documents relating to commercial aircraft. Documents relating to private aircraft, business aircraft and helicopters are still being filed physically. The new electronic system is expected to become available to them during the second half of 2017.
In September 2016 the Brazilian Revenue Service unexpectedly promulgated a change in its treatment of Ireland, which had the potential to wreak havoc on the aircraft leasing sector for the entire country. After four weeks of considerable uncertainty, the changes – as they apply to commercial aircraft leases – were suspended. While the clarifications temporarily resolve the initial concerns regarding commercial aircraft leases, they provide no relief for other important sectors, such as the air taxi sector.
As the revision to the Aeronautical Code is taking longer than expected, the president promulgated interim legal measures earlier in 2016, including one change particularly relevant to air carriers – restrictions on foreign investment in airlines. Although ultimately vetoed, these measures still merit attention, as they are indicative of future legislation.
In a recent Ontario Court of Justice case, Ornge air ambulance services were charged under the Labour Code following an air ambulance crash that killed two pilots and two paramedics on a night flight. The Crown argued that the accident would not have occurred had the pilots been able to see the ground using night vision goggles, and that it had been Ornge's duty to ensure their safety by providing this technology. However, Ornge held that it had complied with all of the legal and regulatory requirements.
Due to an unexpected thunderstorm, some passengers on two Air Transat flights were stranded on the tarmac in the aircraft that they had boarded in Europe for almost five and six hours, respectively. The Canadian Transportation Agency decided to investigate, which is noteworthy as there is little or no precedent for this sort of situation being the subject of an investigation or order by the agency.
In a recent federal labour arbitration, the Air Line Pilots Association brought a grievance on behalf of Jonathon Sipko against Air Georgian Limited for making unauthorised deductions from Sipko's wages when he left Air Georgian's employment less than one year after undergoing captain upgrade training. This case serves as a caution for airlines to ensure that they have express authorisations with employees (commonly in the form of written and signed agreements).
The minister of transport recently appealed a judicial review brought by the Canadian Union of Public Employees. At issue was a change in Sunwing's operating procedures relating to its staffing of flight attendants and whether the change would compromise the safety of passengers and crew members. The Federal Court concluded that ministerial approvals under the Canadian Aviation Regulations require a substantive review of the safety implications of a request, which did not occur in this case.
A complaint regarding the provision of passenger assistance services named neither the carrier nor the ground handling company as a respondent. Instead, only the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) was named. The GTAA asked the Canadian Transportation Agency to dismiss the complaint against it or add the carrier and the service provider as co-respondents to the complaint; however, its request was denied.
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.
As part of its ambitious aviation strategy, the European Commission has proposed harmonising European drone rules. The Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research Joint Undertaking recently unveiled U-Space – a blueprint on the use of drones in low-level airspace. The European Aviation Safety Agency is seeing to it that U-Space has rules that ensure the safe integration of drones into the airspace.
The European Commission recently announced its proposal to amend the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, with the aim of contributing to EU climate objectives regarding the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Although the emission and compensation criteria have not yet been clearly defined, according to this new scheme, there will be three main phases to implement the measures set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Private aviation in Europe will soon be subject to heightened regulatory standards following the implementation of EU Regulation 800/2013. Operators of complex motor-powered aircraft for non-commercial operations must comply with the new regulation standards from August. Aircraft financiers should consider how this affects their investment in these aircraft and whether action needs to be taken to mitigate any potential adverse exposure.