September 16, 2011
GreenAir Story on Toward a Global Aviation Emissions Agreement
Blog readers who enjoyed (or who have not yet read) Brian F. Havel and Gabriel S. Sanchez's article, Toward a Global Aviation Emissions Agreement, may be interested in today's lead story at GreenAir.com. The story, available here, summarizes the authors' arguments and includes additional quotes and comments from Sanchez. For those interested in a draft version of the actual article, it can be found at SSRN here.
September 15, 2011
European Court Finds for British Pilots
Earlier today the European Court of Justice ruled that British Airways must calculate holiday pay for pilots according to the pilots' overall earnings as opposed to their base pay. See UK Pilots Claim 'Victory' Over BA on Holiday Pay, BBC, Sept. 15, 2011 (available here). The European Civil Aviation (Working Time) Regulations require that employees receive at least four weeks of paid leave per year, at issue was how that paid leave was to be calculated. The British Airlines Pilots' Association (BALPA) brought the suit claiming that the rate at which holiday pay was being calculated did not reflect the pilots' true compensation, and the Court apparently agreed. Now that the European Court of Justice has come down in favor of the pilots, the case returns to the UK Supreme Court for a final ruling. Similar claims against other British carriers such as EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic have been on hold awaiting the outcome of this case. Blog readers interested in reading the Court of Justice's opinion can do so here.
September 14, 2011
India to Continue with Existing Bilateral Agreements
A recent story out of India demonstrates yet again the domestic tensions Open skies policy must overcome. India's Civil Aviation Ministry yesterday defended India's existing bilateral air services agreements against criticism from the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG). See Shisher Sinha, Aviation Ministry Not to Review Bilateral Air Service Pacts, The Hindu Business Line, Sept. 13, 2011 (available here). The CAG released its Performance Audit of Civil Aviation in India last week. The report criticized the handling of the merger between the two state-run carriers, Air India and Indian Airlines as well as Air India's fleet expansion. Additionally, the CAG reported that India's bilateral service agreements granting Sixth Freedom rights to countries such as Dubai and Bahrain were hurting Indian carriers and recommended rolling back some of the rights granted to Gulf carriers. Despite the internal pressure, the Aviation Ministry announced that it would not consider any changes to existing agreements, claiming it would be extremely difficult to roll back rights that have already been granted and doing so would have serious diplomatic consequences.
September 13, 2011
Congress Passes Short-term FAA Funding Extension
Earlier today the House passed a bill that would extend FAA funding at current levels through January 31, 2012. See Seung Min Kim, House OKs Stopgap FAA Funding, Politico, Sept. 13, 2011 (available here). The current funding extension is set to expire Friday. It is expected, but not certain, that the Senate will also approve the legislation this week. The two political parties are believed to still be far apart on funding levels for a long-term extension, but it appears likely that a repeat of the recent 13-day partial FAA shutdown will be avoided.
September 12, 2011
Shutdowns, Increased Regulations Planned in Response to Crash of Russian Chartered Plane
Blog readers with a particular interest in airline safety regulations will want to pay close attention to developments in Russia over the coming months. President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday announced plans to have regulations in place by November 15, that would allow authorities to shut down the operations of carriers determined to be unsafe. See Dmitry Medvedev Orders Airline Shutdown After Crash, The Daily Telegraph, Sept. 12, 2011 (available here). Additional proposals to increase penalties for safety violations and expand the authority of inspectors are expected to be submitted to the Federal Assembly in December. The Russian government's suddenly acute focus on the domestic airline industry is likely to have ramifications on international aviation beyond stricter safety regulations. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is reportedly overseeing further industry changes which could include shrinking the number of domestic carriers and significant fleet renewal, possibly including purchases from western companies. See Paul Abelsky, Russian Airplane Crash Clouds Putin Goal of Building World-Class Economy, Bloomberg.com, Sept. 9, 2011 (available here); and See Russia Orders Airline Shutdown After Crash, The Hindu, Sept. 11, 2011 (available here). The possible turn to western aircraft would be a notable departure from Russian policies in recent years which, through taxes and government disapproval, have discouraged purchase of foreign aircraft. See Adam Taylor, Here's the Huge Problem With Russia's Airline Industry, Business Insider Europe, Sept. 8, 2011 (available here).