Thursday, January 28, 2016
In a somewhat unexpected development, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that ICAO's air navigation commission will recommend to the ICAO Council that lithium ion batteries be banned from cargo holds of passenger aircraft. The decision is surprising because it runs contrary to the recommendations of ICAO's dangerous goods panel which advised against such a ban late last year.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Europe has a new lobbying group, Airlines for Europe (A4E), which hopes to replace the Association for European Airlines (AEA) as the primary trade association for European carriers. AEA was beset by defections last year over the association's opposition to the growth of middle eastern carriers in the European market. The new association includes remaining members of AEA such as Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, along with some of the association's most significant defectors, such as IAG, and major LCCs such as Ryanair and easyJet. A4E's first campaign is targeting airport charges, an area of agreement for all carriers.
Friday, January 15, 2016
Air Transport World is reporting that LATAM will seek antitrust immunity for joint ventures with American Airlines and IAG. Competition authorities in South America, the European Union, and the United States will all need to acquiesce. The prospects for success will be analyzed in a future post. For now, it is simply worth calling attention to this potentially significant development. This would be the first extension of the immunized, metal-neutral joint ventures to include an airline outside of Europe or North America.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Vietnam has filed a complaint with ICAO about recent Chinese flights to the Fiery Cross Reef in the hotly contested South China Sea, to which Brunei, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines all register territorial claims. Vietnam is responsible for supervision of international flights in the area, and complains that China has recently conducted dozens of flights through the region without properly notifying Vietnamese aviation authorities.
China contends that because these are state flights, they are not subject to the same air traffic requirements as civil aviation. The characterization of the test flights to the Fiery Cross air strip as state flights appears reasonable despite the use of State-owned commercial airliners. The flights did not transport ticketed passengers, and given that the islands in question are primarily uninhabited, commercial services to the area are unlikely. Vietnam's complaints are not limited, however, to the question of state or civil operations, as Vietnam asserts the island area comprises part of Vietnam's sovereign airspace, through which even state flights are prohibited absent prior approval by Article 3 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention). ICAO will have no interest in getting drawn into the larger question of which State has sovereignty over the islands and surrounding areas. Should ICAO take a position, it is likely to be sufficiently narrow to be read as neutrally as possible on the sovereignty question.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Etihad appears poised to increase its ownership stake in India's Jet Airways to 49%, the maximum amount permitted by Indian law. India only recently relaxed its restrictions on foreign investment of airlines and Etihad is taking advantage. The rule changes are, of course, benefiting Jet Airways as well, as the carrier is desperate for the capital Etihad is providing. Despite the newly relaxed rules, Indian government officials retain the authority to scrutinize the transaction and may decide against approval. This latest investment, if approved, will be the last equity infusion of this type that Etihad will be able to provide Jet for the foreseeable future. Not only do India's national laws prohibit Etihad from acquiring a majority ownership in Jet, but Jet's ability to serve international routes under most bilateral air services agreements would be jeopardized should it become majority foreign-owned.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
A recently published study on the effects of the U.S. Department of Transportation's 2010 Tarmac Delay Rule is receiving considerable media attention. The study by researchers at Dartmouth and MIT found that the rule has been successful in its intended goal of reducing the number of delays in which passengers are stranded on the tarmac for an excessive period of time, but that flight cancellations and non-tarmac delays have increased as a consequence of airlines' attempts to comply with the rule. The study's authors propose alterations to minimize the rule's negative effects, such as increasing the tarmac delay threshold from 3 to 3.5 hours and exempting evening flights from the rule to reduce cancellations that strand passengers overnight.