Tuesday, July 29, 2014
After meeting with representatives from IATA and other aviation organizations earlier today, ICAO has announced that it will create a task force to study potential policy responses to the security issues raised by the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. It appears the task force will be focused on how best to ensure that airlines and civil aviation authorities are provided with the necessary information to accurately determine when the airspace over conflict zones should be avoided. There was some mention of possibly including military or security agency officials on the task force, which seems wise considering those are the agencies with which civilian aviation officials will have to partner more closely to obtain the information necessary to avoid future disasters. Unsurprisingly, institutional changes that would transfer authority to issue airspace restrictions from national authorities to ICAO were ruled out. Hopefully, ICAO's task force will be able to at least devise some best practices for States to follow when evaluating potential threats and approving routes, and the consequences of this recent tragedy will provide sufficient motivation for States to faithfully implement those recommendations.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Professor Brian F. Havel was interviewed for a post on Malaysia Airlines' anticipated liability for yesterday's crash in the New York Times' Upshot blog. Under the Montreal Convention, Malaysia is still responsible to its passengers for damages up to the Special Drawing Rights cap despite the outside interference. Whether it will be liable for additional damages will likely come down to whether the decision to fly through contested Ukrainian territory could be considered negligent. The F.A.A. had previously prohibited U.S. carriers from flying through that space, but many other airlines were still operating there. It came as a surprise to many to learn that the rebels may have had access to weaponry capable of shooting down a civilian airliner at cruising altitude. A number of airlines, including Malaysia, have announced in the past 24 hours that they will begin routing around that region.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Earlier today a Boeing 777 operated by Malaysia Airlines and carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine, an area that has been the subject of heavy fighting in recent months. While details are still emerging, officials in the Ukraine and Russia are investigating the possibility that the aircraft was shot down by rebel separatist groups. We'll follow this story closely in the coming days, but some immediate legal questions come to mind. First, will the Ukrainian government declare a state of emergency under Article 9 of the Chicago Convention and close portions of Ukrainian airspace to civilian airlines? Should that have been done before this happened? Second, will Ukrainian authorities be able to to conduct a proper accident investigation in this contested region, and will Russian authorities support Ukrainian authority to do so?
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
AirAsia recently announced plans to relaunch its Japanese affiliate. The Malaysian low-cost carrier has successfully circumvented rules against foreign ownership and control of airlines by partnering with local investors to establish affiliates in Indonesia, the Phillipines, Thailand and, as of last month, India. AirAsia had previously tried operating an affiliate in Japan in partnership with All Nippon Airways, but that ended last year. Because Japan, like most countries, prohibits foreign investors from owning a majority stake in its airlines, AirAsia was unable to restart the Japanese affiliate until it had found new Japanese partners to hold the 51% of the shares not owned by AirAsia.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Two men have been arrested for operating a small, unmanned aircraft in dangerous proximity to a police helicopter in New York City. Expect more stories like this until civilian drones have been adequately integrated into the existing air transport system.
Monday, July 7, 2014
Lufthansa and Air China have announced a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a joint venture between the two carriers. Both airlines are already members of the Star Alliance and have cooperated in a variety of forms since 1989, including a code-sharing agreement that has been in place since 2000. The specific routes included and other details of the joint venture, which is anticipated to begin late this year, have yet to be announced, but it is expected to include some revenue sharing. The two carriers have been in discussions over expanding their cooperative arrangements since at least last October.