June 4, 2010
IATA Annual General Meeting
The International Air Transport Association's 66th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit will take place June 6-8, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. From the press release:
The official program starts at 0900 CET on 7 June with the State of the Industry address by Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “We are meeting as the industry continues its recovery from the global financial meltdown and turbulent decade of cycles and shocks that resulted in accumulated losses of nearly $50 billion. A strong traffic growth trend prior to the setback of the Icelandic volcano is improving the industry’s bottom line prospects. It is finally time for some cautious optimism,” said Bisignani.
Among the highlights of the AGM will be the release of a new industry outlook as part of the Director General’s State of the Industry address. The discussions of top industry leaders will also focus on:
- The industry’s strategy on climate change in the aftermath of the Copenhagen talks and in preparation for COP-16 in Mexico
- Structuring the industry for profitability with consolidation and commercial freedoms
- Finding an effective and harmonized approach to security
- Finding a better way for governments and industry to work together with a common vision
United/Continental Antitrust Hearings
Even though the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation postponed its May 27 hearings on the pending United/Continental merger, the Senate Judiciary Committee went forward with theirs last week. See Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, The United/Continental Airlines Merger: How Will Consumers Fare? (May 27, 2010) (available here).
The Judiciary Committee's webpage includes testimony transcripts along with a webcast of the hearings. Blog readers should note, however, that the actual hearings don't begin until approximately 12 minutes into the video file.
June 3, 2010
New DOT Regulations in the Works
The Department of Transportation announced its intentions yesterday to ratchet up its already controversial airline consumer protection rules, see Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections, 74 Fed. Reg. 68, 983 (Dec. 30, 2009) (available here), with additional provisions which would:
• increase compensation for passengers involuntarily bumped from flights
• allow passengers to make and cancel reservations within 24 hours without penalty
• require full and prominently displayed disclosure of baggage fees as well as refunds and expense reimbursement when bags are not delivered on time
• require fair price advertising • prohibit price increases after a ticket is purchased
• mandate timely notice of flight status changes
See Press Release, DOT, DOT Proposes Additional Consumer Protections for Air Travelers, DOT 110-10 (June 2, 2010) (available here).
Blog readers interested in perusing the entire text of the new rule may do so here. Additionally, Econometrica, Inc. has submitted a preliminary analysis of the proposed rule as part of the docket. See Econometrica, Inc., Preliminary Regulatory Analysis: Consumer Rulemaking NPRM: Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections II, Dkt. No. DOT-OST-2010-0140 (May 24, 2010) (available here).
June 1, 2010
AEI Outlook on Airline Industry
Blog readers may wish to read the American Enterprise Institute's new report on the North American airline industry and what lawmakers can do to improve service for consumers. See Mark Milke, Open Skies: What North America Can Learn From Europe, AEI Outlook Series No. 3 (May 2010) (available here). From the summary:
As Americans head into the summer travel season, there is a lesson they could learn from the European Union (EU): how to make airfare cheaper. The EU instituted an "open-skies" policy in 1997, resulting in more routes, more airline competitors, and lower fares. The European market is distinct from the airline market in North America, where both U.S. and Canadian regulations prohibit foreign-owned airlines from offering domestic flights--that is, from picking up and dropping off a passenger in-country--within the United States or Canada. North American policymakers would do well to follow Europe's example and establish open-skies agreements.
Challenge to EU ETS Proceeds
The Air Transport Association won a crucial victory last week when the English High Court ruled that it would refer the organization's challenge to the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme for aviation to the European Court of Justice. See Press Release, ATA, English High Court Permits ATA Legal Challenge to EU Emissions Trading Scheme to Proceed (May 27, 2010) (available here). From the release:
The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, said today that it was pleased that the English High Court will allow ATA permission to proceed with its legal challenge to the unilateral extension of the EU emissions trading scheme to international aviation. The High Court will shortly refer the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg for a ruling on the validity of the EU law.
“The High Court decision to refer this case to the European Court of Justice is an important step, as only the ECJ has the authority to rule on the Europe-wide directive that applies the European Emissions Trading Scheme to our airlines. The unilateral extension of the EU ETS to international aviation is contrary to international law both as an extraterritorial action and an improper tax or charge. It also clearly stands in the way of an appropriate and effective global solution,” said ATA Vice President, Environmental Affairs, Nancy Young.
ATA is challenging the EU directive extending the existing emissions trading scheme (ETS) to airlines from around the world engaged in international aviation activities.
For further discussion on the ATA challenge from the blog, see "Challenging the EU ETS."