Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Readers of the Aviation Law Prof Blog may be interested in the forthcoming edition of Issues in Aviation Law and Policy. A PDF flyer with article and subscription information is available here to download (Download ialp_autumn08_notice.pdf). Complete article abstracts will appear online shortly.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Blog readers may be interested in Rowman & Littlefield's recent release of A Europe of the Air?: The Airline Industry and European Integration by Prof. Martin Staniland. A Europe of the Air? analyzes the development of the European Union's air transport policy while reflecting on the larger lessons it tells about EU market integration. As Prof. Brian Havel of the International Aviation Law Institute has observed, "Staniland's ability to synthesize a vast array of primary and secondary materials into a coherent whole will be a boon to any serious scholar of international aviation. But those interested in the larger political and economic challenges of integrating Europe's economies will also find in this work a fascinating case study of the competing and often contradictory national and supranational interests that influence the regulatory profile of a large, complicated, and highly politicized industry."
Monday, October 20, 2008
The International Air Transport Association issued a strong statement last week against Ireland and Belgium's plans to impose departure taxes as a means of shoring up national budgets impacted by the current global financial crisis. The IATA statement noted that the price of these tax proposals, when combined with the current departure charges instituted by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, could cost consumers 3.8 billion euro by 2010.
If the taxes are passed into law, it is likely both will face court battles similar to the one still pending against the Dutch tax which went into effect last July. The critical question for the courts to answer is whether these taxes violate the Chicago Convention's Article 15 prohibition on charges imposed by contracting States solely for the right of entry, exit, or transit over their territory. This article has been read as not merely a prohibition on discriminatory fees, but as a bar to States imposing charges on civil aviation which are unrelated to the use of airports or their facilities. Given the fact Ireland and Belgium's proposals serve no other purpose than to raise lost revenue at the expense of civil aviation, their incompatibility with Article 15 seems apparent. Whether the national courts agree is another matter. The aforementioned Dutch tax has already survived two lower court rulings. On the other hand, a 2005 ruling by the Administrative High Court of Belgium nullifying a tax imposed on all flights into Brussels National Airport relied specifically on Article 15. What (if any) persuasive value that case holds remains to be seen.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Another sign that we have entered the era of the European Union leading the charge of exporting airline liberalization came last week after the Council of the European Union authorized the European Commission to open negotiations with Lebanon to expand the EU's Common Aviation Area (CAA) with its neighbors. As the Commission has stated, the objective of the CAA is to establish "a single pan-European air transport market, based on a common set of rules and encompassing 60 countries with approximately one billion inhabitants." The Commission's ambitious goal for the CAA, when placed next to its network of global air transport agreements and negotiations with the U.S., Canada, Australia, India, and China, has positioned it, not the U.S., as the central force in shaping international aviation law and policy.
Further information concerning the Council's authorization, along with the Commission's official communications on its CAA goals, are available here.
On Thursday, October 23, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice will hold a workshop on airline competition to mark the thirtieth anniversary of airline deregulation. Information on attending the workshop is available on the DOJ's website. Whether you are able to attend or not, most of the workshop's panelists have provided papers on the topics they will cover; links to their work may be found here.
The Summer 2008 edition of the Houston Law Review features a series of thoughtful articles and commentaries on the airline industry after 30 years of (incomplete) deregulation. For those without Lexis, Westlaw, or ready-at-hand law library access, the entire issue is archived online for free here. Readers of this blog may be particularly interested in the contributions of Prof. Paul Stephen Dempsey, Director of McGill University's Institute of Air & Space Law, which beats the war drums against deregulation, and the thoughtful rejoinder provided by Prof. Peter C. Carstensen of the University of Wisconsin's Law School. While, as Carstensen readily admits, Dempsey does a fine job highlighting the faulty assumptions underlying the initial deregulatory ethos, he goes too far in saddling competition itself as the culprit behind the industry's cyclical woes. A sound and sophisticated rethinking of pro-competitive policies for civil aviation--the sort which Carstensen highlights throughout his commentary--would maintain the consumer benefits yielded by deregulation while injecting economic stability into the aviation marketplace.