Thursday, July 28, 2016
In a thought-provoking post over at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, Eli Dourado and Michael Kotrus draw attention to an area of aircraft regulation that is rarely discussed: aircraft speed. The post argues that innovation in air travel has been hampered by the four-decade-old ban on supersonic air travel, which has discouraged aircraft manufacturers from pursuing speed gains in development of new aircraft. The authors contend that the original reasons for the ban, fears of the negative externalities created by supersonic booms, could be addressed through the same regulatory solutions with which aircraft noise is presently controlled. The blanket ban, by their account, has denied consumers significant potential gains in reduced travel times that may outweigh whatever negative consequences accompany supersonic travel.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
The European Commission has informed U.S. officials that it intends to seek via arbitration proceedings a resolution to the dispute over the excessive delay by the U.S. in granting operating permission to Norwegian Air International's Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS). It is the EU's position that the US-EU Open Skies Agreement requires the U.S. to approve NAS's application without delay. This would be the first invocation of the Agreement's arbitration clause.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
A 14-month extension of the United States Federal Aviation Administration's legal authority and existing funding levels has now passed both the House of Representatives as well as the Senate and is expected to be signed by President Obama prior to the expiration of the previous FAA authorization on Friday. While the bill contains no mention of air traffic control reorganization, which was once under consideration as part of the reauthorization package, there are some minor policy changes involving consumer protection and security. The passenger rights measures include requirements that airlines refund baggage fees for lost items and new rules on seating passengers with disabilities or young children. The decision to only extend operating authority for little more than a year is believed to indicate a hope on the part of some legislators to revisit the air traffic control debate next summer, in a non-election year.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Saudi Arabia will soon be the latest country to mandate that carriers meet minimum standards with regard to treatment of passengers whose flights have been delayed or canceled. Similar rules have proliferated globally since the passage of the EU passenger rights law ten years ago. Saudi Arabia's new Consumer Protection Executive Regulations will also impose fines on carriers for lost baggage and for failure to properly accommodate passengers with special needs.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
British low-cost carrier easyJet has been the first airline to publicly discuss how its business plans are being affected by last month's referendum vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. The carrier will start by seeking an Air Operating Certificate (AOC) from an EU Member State. While most experts believe the UK will attempt to find a way to remain a part of the European Common Aviation Area in order to preserve unrestricted traffic rights for its carriers between any two EU cities, easyJet understandably wants to protect itself from possible loss of access to these markets. Reports last week also revealed that if the UK cannot successfully recreate its current relationship with the EU with regard to air transport services, easyJet is contemplating moving its official headquarters out of the UK as well. EasyJet has denied that will happen and sounds prepared to keep a significant portion of its operations based out of the UK in any future scenario. The carrier's stock price has suffered a substantial decline since the referendum vote two weeks ago.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
A few weeks ago we linked to news of a bill passed in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies that would permit 100 percent foreign ownership of airlines. That change will not take effect, however, as interim-President Michel Temer was only able to secure Senate passage of the overall air transport legislation bill by promising to veto the provision on foreign investment. Instead, the existing 20 percent cap on foreign ownership of airlines will remain in effect.