The Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security recently announced rules designed to further restrict travel to Cuba, including eliminating a sub-category of authorised travel to Cuba entitled 'people-to-people educational travel'. These changes significantly restrict non-commercial aviation traffic to Cuba going forward for all persons subject to the OFAC's jurisdiction.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court recently dismissed a judicial review leave application brought by AirAsia Berhad and AirAsia X Berhad (collectively, AirAsia) against the Malaysian Aviation Commission, with Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd being named as the second respondent. AirAsia argued that the passenger service charge rates prescribed in the regulations were ceiling rates rather than fixed rates and, as such, AirAsia was not required to pay the revised amount.
The Administrative Supreme Court recently ruled on the operation of night-time flights for civil purposes over Italian national territory, issuing a milestone decision that put an end to a 20-year regulatory dispute. The decision means that Italian airports now have parity with those located in other EU member states and has removed the negative effect that the ban had had on competition.
In a recent preliminary ruling, the European Court of Justice held that a foreign object such as a screw or nail on an airport runway which damages an aircraft represents an extraordinary circumstance under the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation. According to the court, such incidents exempt air carriers from the obligation to pay passengers compensation in the event of denied boarding and flight cancellation or long delays.
Since Maldivian law contains no compulsory terms and conditions for domestic air carriage, air carriers are free to determine the conditions of carriage. As long as such terms do not violate any other Maldivian laws, they are valid and binding between passengers and consignees. Therefore, it is essential for passengers and consignees to understand the conditions of carriage and their rights in case of an accident, damage or loss of passengers or cargo.
The Bahamas' flight information region airspace comprises tens of thousands of miles and is subject to significant overflight activity. Moreover, it is one of the most important airspaces and is worth millions in revenue. To further enhance the civil aviation sector, the government is seeking to create a self-funded and sustainable management programme in order to collect overflight fees, while paying the US Federal Aviation Administration a fee for the management of its airspace.
The Civil Aviation (Security) Regulations 2019 (Security Regulations) recently entered into force. Among other things, the regulations have established new aviation security authorities, implemented national security programmes and introduced new security and screening controls. Passengers, operators (including aerodrome operators), ground handlers and other persons who fail to comply with the Security Regulations could face a fine of up to RM200,000 or up to five years' imprisonment (or both).
Following several rounds and many months of consultations, the government recently announced that the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPRs) developed by the Canadian Transportation Agency have been finalised. The APPRs apply to all flights within, from or to Canada, whether operated by a Canadian or foreign airline. Once in effect, the regulations will impose obligations on carriers in cases of tarmac delays, denied boarding and delayed and cancelled flights.
Following developments earlier in 2019, aircraft repossession has continued to be in the spotlight – yet again with regard to the Oceanair Linhas Aéreas SA (commonly known as 'Avianca Brazil') bankruptcy and, in particular, the experience of lessors that sought repossession of leased aircraft therefrom. In this case, and contrary to Avianca Brazil's pre-bankruptcy experience, a bankruptcy court failed to uphold the express provisions of the Bankruptcy Law 2005 and the Cape Town Convention
Three dozen Canadian airports may be on the hook for fees charged to airline employees flying on employee travel passes. A proposed class action has been commenced in the Federal Court of Canada claiming compensation for airline employees who paid certain fees which the representative plaintiff claims should not have been paid pursuant to agreements signed by the defendant airports.
Commercial drone flights are expected to be a future market worth billions. Considering this prospect, the German air traffic control company Deutsche Flugsicherung and the largest telecoms provider in Europe, Deutsche Telekom, have established a joint venture, Droniq, to operate remote-controlled long-haul flights. Among other things, Droniq aims to establish a digital platform for all unmanned aerial operations and engage with security authorities and logistics companies seeking to deliver goods faster.
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.
The Federal Court recently heard a case in which two passengers claimed damages from Aeromexico after they had been ordered to disembark an aircraft for being disruptive. The case provides an insight into the question of whether consumer protection law trumps flight security concerns.
Recent reports suggest that the need to remedy defects in a faulty fire prevention system and other construction faults will further delay the opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport. For example, an internal report by TÜV Rheinland detailed 11,519 deficiencies in the airport's emergency lighting and safety power supply cables, which were replaced after the failed opening in 2012.
Air traffic controller and pilot organisations have criticised recent convictions handed down in Switzerland for operational incidents that resulted in neither injury nor damage. Critics have asserted that criminal prosecutions in the aviation sector tend to do more harm than good. Further, there is widespread concern that criminalisation leads to a loss of cooperation from individuals who could provide the most critical insight into the circumstances of an incident.
The Quebec Superior Court of Justice recently ruled against Air Canada in a class action brought by passengers with disabilities, their attendants and obese passengers who had been required to pay for additional seats on flights. This decision confirms that carriers that do not abide by a 'one passenger one ticket' policy may be liable for discriminating against passengers with disabilities and obese passengers who require more than one seat.
A 2018 Federal Court of Justice decision clarified that the secondary obligations arising from a contract of carriage between a passenger and an air carrier extend to the verification of the validity of the documents required for entry. However, checking that passengers have the correct documentation also remains an obligation for air carriers. Air carriers must therefore check the validity of passengers' documents before admitting them to a flight in order to rule out their own contributory negligence.
A software issue is suggested to have played a role in the two horrific crashes involving the new Boeing 737 MAX. With this in mind, what potential theories of civil liability could Boeing be subject to by passengers and airlines that have suffered significant losses as a result of what appears to be a design flaw in this software? Further, what theories allow for criminal liability?
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.
The Constitution provides that any international treaty to which the Maldives becomes a party will be enforced only on Parliament's approval and in accordance with any conditions of such approval. Among others, the Maldives has ratified the Convention on International Civil Aviation and the Convention on the International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft. Further, there have been talks about implementing legislation to govern the rights of domestic air passengers.