Carriers' commitment to travel at certain times implies a duty of extreme diligence to respect the terms of their offer and such commitment is essential to those who use their services. A first-instance court recently declared that Qatar Airways breached its transport contract and the obligations to its passengers following the delay and cancellation of one of its flights from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires.
In the context of deregulating the aviation sector and attracting low-cost carriers, the Ministry of Transportation recently issued Resolution 656/2018, which allows domestic carriers to charge any fare that they wish under certain circumstances. Before this resolution, domestic carriers could charge no lower than the Civil Aviation Authority threshold.
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.
For the first time, The Bahamas has embarked on an ambitious project to develop a national aviation policy to better coordinate and facilitate civil aviation activities to, from and within the country. Further, the ratification of the Cape Town Convention will better position The Bahamas as a key player in the global industry in terms of financing and leasing aircraft and will allow the country to compete in the aviation industry on a global level.
The Bahamas is ripe with opportunity and well positioned in what has become a new global industry within the civil aviation sector. The numerous remote islands in the country afford many possibilities regarding the operation and testing of drones as they become more sophisticated and start to be used for various operations. Drone operators, whether commercial or recreational, must be mindful of privacy, data collection and use and nuisance.
The Bahamian authorities recently embarked on an ambitious project to reform and enhance the country's civil aviation sector. These efforts will enhance the country's standing in the global arena, where aviation is experiencing considerable and dynamic growth. Such growth will benefit not only the country's civil aviation sector, but also its financial services and private sectors.
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.
In respect of four aircraft that were recently repossessed before Avianca Brazil obtained bankruptcy protection, the Brazilian judiciary and civil aviation agency procedures worked reasonably well and Brazil's overall performance complied with its obligations under the Cape Town Convention. While all four aircraft were exported and de-registered within approximately two weeks, Brazilian customs authorities must still reassess the current export authorisation procedure.
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.
In a recent case that dealt with Air Canada's duty to serve passengers in both of Canada's official languages (English and French), the Federal Court held that the airline had violated a passenger's right to be served in French. The court found that Air Canada had failed to serve a passenger in French during an incident where the passenger had been involuntarily removed from a Canada-bound flight from Fort Lauderdale and when the airline later sent him a copy of its tariff in English in response to the incident.
The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia recently ruled in favour of Air Canada, dismissing a passenger's appeal of the province's small claims court's interpretation of the air carrier's tariff provision which pertained to denied boarding compensation. Despite humble beginnings in the small claims court, the case provides some insight into how the Canadian courts may interpret air carrier tariffs and the evidence that claimants are expected to adduce to succeed in securing compensation in overbooking cases.
In early 2018 the Federal Court reviewed a 2015 Transport Canada decision to issue a civil aviation safety alert (CASA) against Rotor Maxx Support Ltd. CASAs are non-mandatory notifications issued by the regulator which contain important safety information and recommended actions for appropriate stakeholders. The court had previously declined to grant an injunction preventing the issuance of the CASA.
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.