Thursday, April 28, 2016
Despite the likelihood that the U.S. Congress once again struggles to pass a long-term FAA reauthorization bill in a timely fashion, there is bipartisan support for legislation that would empower the TSA to play a more active role regarding security at non-U.S. airports from which flights operate to the United States. Proposed changes include authorizing the donation of security equipment to foreign airports and requiring the agency to explore inspection agreements with foreign governments. Sovereignty considerations obviously limit the extent to which the United States can dictate the operations of foreign airports, but congress appears determined to remove any internal barriers that could prevent the TSA from taking as active a role in airport security as foreign governments will allow.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
A curious NY Times story from earlier this week, Start-Up Airline Idles on a California Runway, Stymied by Bureaucracy, describes the complaints of a 95 year-old entrepreneur who has been thus far unable to secure an operating certificate for California Pacific Airlines. The slant of the article is extremely sympathetic to the individual, a Mr. Vallas, and clearly implies the blame for his stalled airline lies at the feet of the sluggish F.A.A. bureaucracy. This tone struck me as strange given that the article quotes an F.A.A. letter describing the documentation Mr. Vallas submitted in support of his application for an operating certificate as "incomplete, inaccurate and do not appear to have been reviewed for quality." The author of the story appears to give no consideration to the possibility that perhaps Mr. Vallas' application was deserving of rejection. While nobody wants a return to era when the federal government rejected any new entrants into the air services market on the grounds that new carriers were not in the nation's interest, those rules have long since been abolished. That the F.A.A. still requires certain criteria to be met to ensure that the prospective operators of a new airline have adequate managerial experience, financial backing, and clean legal and safety backgrounds is hardly cause for complaint. It is possible that those criteria are being enforced too rigidly, but this story provides scant evidence in support of such a claim.
Friday, April 15, 2016
The U.S. Department of Transportation today issued a show cause order proposing that Norwegian Air International (NAI), an Ireland-based subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS), be granted a foreign air carrier permit that will allow it to begin operating flights to the United States. Norwegian's application has been pending for an unprecedented 28 months as the U.S. has attempted to assess the applicability of Article 17 bis of the US-EU Air Services Agreement. In article 17 bis, both parties pledge support for high labor standards. Unions have accused Norwegian of establishing the subsidiary in Ireland to take advantage of lower labor costs compared to Norway. The delay has drawn repeated criticism from EU officials, who insist the Air Services Agreement requires the U.S. to approve the application of any carrier owned by nationals of an EU Member State operating under the "common carrier" designation, thereby rendering any questions of labor arbitrage a strictly internal matter for the EU. The show cause order is a precursor to a final approval, which will likely be issued in the coming months.