Thursday, May 26, 2016
The Modi government in India has been developing a new aviation policy, and while public release of the proposal was thought to be imminent, reports today suggest the release date may have been postponed. The plans are rumored to include a possible elimination of the 5/20 rule, which prohibits Indian carriers from flying internationally without at least 5 prior years of domestic operation and a fleet of at least 20 aircraft. Some form of price cap on tickets is also reportedly under consideration, though the stringency of the cap and mechanism by which it will be effected is unclear. Most interestingly, the delay in the release of the policy is reportedly related to the government's deliberations over the possibility of auctioning off air traffic rights for foreign carriers. This would be a significant departure from existing international practice, by which traffic rights are exchanged through bilateral trade agreements, typically on a reciprocal basis. It is unclear precisely how India's plan would work, presumably the rights would only be made available to carriers from States with which India already has an existing bilateral air services agreement. The International Air Transport Association has expressed reservations about such a plan.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Today's New York Times reports on the increasing number of small businesses offering drone-related services. In addition to providing examples of specific companies such as HoneyComb, which provides drone-operated agricultural monitoring, the article describes the uncertain regulatory landscape in which these businesses must operate. Jeffrey Antonelli, a graduate of DePaul Law School whose practice includes helping small business owners navigate federal laws regarding the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles, is quoted for the story.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
While air traffic control privatization was the en vogue idea for reforming U.S. aviation policy for most of the past year, developments over the past few weeks have shifted attention to the growing problem of airport security lines as the country enters the summer travel season. Reports of three-hour waits to pass through security, and stranded passengers have prompted promised improvements from the Transportation Security Administration (T.S.A.), including expedited hiring and increased overtime. These small measures will likely earn the embattled agency little reprieve from mounting criticism on all sides. An undercover investigation last year found airport security screening to be frightfully ineffective at preventing weapons from being smuggled onto aircraft. Meanwhile, the agency has recently been beset by complaints of mismanagement and retaliation against whistle blowers. This backdrop leaves the T.S.A. with a multitude of problems to correct and little outside confidence in the agency's ability to fix everything at once. Opinion pieces have begun to call for replacement of T.S.A. operations with private security screening contractors as is already done at 22 U.S. airports, and even to question the reason for the agency's existence. Congress has been highly critical during hearings into the T.S.A.'s ongoing struggles and even airlines, which have in the past been understandably restrained in vocally complaining about the post 9/11 security apparatus, have encouraged disgruntled passengers to vent their frustration at the agency as opposed to the airlines.
Many of the arguments for privatizing air traffic control apply equally to the T.S.A. As with air traffic control, a conflict of interest exists in that the agency charged with writing and enforcing rules is also responsible for carrying them out, requiring the agency to police itself to a degree. Critics have depicted the T.S.A. as a sprawling, difficult-to-manage bureaucracy, a common argument in privatization fights. For those more inclined to blame Congress than the agency itself, the T.S.A.'s current problems can be attributed to some of the same concerns about unreliable and politicized funding that is raised when it is suggested that air traffic control would benefit if isolated from the general appropriations process. And as with air traffic control, there are many successful foreign examples of alternative models for organizing airport security screening operations. If anything, the argument for privatization might be stronger with respect to airport security, because decision-making could be more localized than is possible with air traffic control. While there has not been any indication yet that congress intends to seriously consider privatizing airport security, if this summer becomes the public relations disaster that the past few weeks portend, it could be the catalyst that makes airport security privatization next year's fashionable aviation policy idea.
Monday, May 16, 2016
Eight low-cost carriers (LCCs) from the Asia Pacific region today announced they have formed value alliance, the world's largest LCC alliance. Value alliance includes Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air, Nok, NokScoot, Scoot, Tigerair Australia, Tigerair Singapore, and Vanilla Air, representing six different countries in the Asia Pacific region. The alliance will reportedly involve code-sharing and combined ticketing and marketing efforts, but not extend to frequent flyer programs or involve coordination on routes or prices. Despite speculation about future mergers in this Bloomberg report, the alliance is intended to operate at a level of integration that would not necessitate regulatory review. The alliance's primary purpose appears to be to help its members better compete with AirAsia and Jetstar, the two leading LCC franchises in the region.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Today's news highlights the international system working how it is intended. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), through its Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP), identified failings in Kazakhstan's air operator certification process substantial enough to warrant a Significant Safety Concern (SSC) designation. ICAO brought in a multinational team of experts as part of its No Country Left Behind initiative, and the identified problems have now been declared resolved.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Beginning with a preliminary briefing today, the International Civil Aviation Organization will spend the remainder of the week hosting a high-level meeting to which all contracting States and a number of important environmental and air transport organizations have been invited. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss a draft Assembly Resolution text containing a global Market-Based Measure (MBM) for aviation greenhouse gas emissions in advance of the upcoming 39th session of the ICAO Assembly later this year. ICAO has completed all of its Global Aviation Dialogues (GLADs) soliciting input on the subject from various stakeholders and regions, and this week's meeting is the last major emissions event currently scheduled prior to the Assembly. By the end of the week, we should hopefully know more about the likelihood of there being a meaningful Assembly Resolution vote in October. For now, ICAO has provided a fairly detailed and informative FAQ page on the issue which includes the draft text that will be discussed at this week's meeting.
Monday, May 9, 2016
The Volume 15, Spring 2016 issue of the International Aviation Law Institute's journal, Issues in Aviation Law and Policy (IALP), will be available for purchase at the end of this month. The issue will feature a commentary by Matt Andersson, How Economic History Can Guide Aviation Policy, as well as the following articles:
- John D. Goetz & Sarah L. Thompson, The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Its Effect on International Aviation
- Elena Carpanelli, Cooperative Ventures Between Air Carriers: Time to Reform the International Rules?
- Jeremy Straub & Joe Vacek, A Liability Model for the Operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
- Francesco Gaspari, Aviation and Environmental Protection After the 2015 Paris Agreement: From Regulatory Unilateralism Toward International Cooperation
- Andrea Trimarchi, An Analysis of the Grounds of Jurisdiction and Jurisdictional Issues of e-Ticketing in Light of the Warsaw/Montreal System
- Margaret M. Walsh, The Boeing Company and Forum Non Conveniens in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Information about subscribing to IALP is available through the Institute's web page.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Cofece, Mexico's competition commission, yesterday approved a proposed joint venture between Aeromexico and Delta. The two airlines seek to collaborate more closely in setting prices, capacity, and schedules, and need assurance that such efforts will not be determined to violate antritrust laws. They are still waiting for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to grant immunity from U.S. antitrust laws. Cofece has conditioned its approval on the surrender of eight slots at Mexico City Airport.
The Mexican senate has also reportedly ratified the changes to the U.S.- Mexico Air Transport Agreement signed in December. The Aeromexico-Delta JV could prove an interesting case for the DOT's antitrust immunity process. In prior cases, the DOT has relied heavily on the existence of an Open Skies agreement between the U.S. and the countries being served before granting antitrust immunity to a pending joint venture. The new U.S.-Mexico agreement, while significantly liberalized, falls short of being a full "Open Skies" agreement.
Monday, May 2, 2016