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.
A number of aviation regulations were issued in Argentina in 2016, including an executive decree to protect claims arising due to the provision of insufficient or misleading information to passengers, consignors or consignees regarding the conditions of an air transportation contract. Further, Resolution 113/16 adopts the internationally recognised system of equal treatment between operators and does not give priority to any carrier, which was not previously the case.
The crew of a commercial airline invited a VIP passenger into the cockpit for the duration of a scheduled flight. The first-instance court decided that the crew and passenger should be charged under Article 190 of the Criminal Code, as their behaviour had violated safety regulations and posed a threat to the security of the aircraft, passengers and cargo and third parties on the ground, even though no harm had been caused.
The Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) recently issued a regulation modifying and deleting previous dispositions. Resolution 445/06 states that non-compliance with ANAC-approved schedules for scheduled carriers will be subject to fines only if the carrier delays a flight without providing the required ancillary services to passengers. If the carrier has no other option than to delay a flight, no fines will be imposed so long as the carrier complies with its obligations to passengers.
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.
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.
Brazil's airlines are facing unprecedented economic and financial pressures. With approximately 15 to 20% of their payment obligations fixed in US dollars, they have seen their operational profits drastically decline and are experiencing significant operating losses. Although no airline has sought bankruptcy protection, the risk that a major airline will do so is considerable and lessors should be aware of their rights and risks should this occur.
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.
In a motion brought before the British Columbia Supreme Court, six aircraft passenger plaintiffs sought an order granting them access to the audio data from a cockpit voice recorder, as well as a partial transcript of that data. The Transportation Safety Board did not oppose the request for access, but appeared before the court to explain the enabling legislation and the policy reasons for the statutory privilege that pertains to such recordings.
The Quebec Superior Court recently authorised a class action brought against Air Canada seeking reimbursement of amounts paid to it as a fuel surcharge when purchasing tickets for international carriage. The court dismissed the arguments that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case and that the representative plaintiff did not meet the requirements for certification.
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.
The highly charged aviation emissions issue will reach a critical crossroads at the next International Civil Aviation Organisation assembly in 2016. If no agreement on a global emissions reduction scheme is reached, the European Union may reintroduce the full-scope EU Emissions Trading Scheme covering all flights within, to and from the European Union, which could have wide-ranging consequences for aircraft operators and owners.