Cozen O'Connor

Washington DC

Ranked among the top 100 law firms in the country, Cozen O’Connor has more than 750 attorneys in 27 cities across two continents. We are a full-service firm with nationally recognized practices in litigation, business law, and government relations, and our attorneys have experience operating in all sectors of the economy. Our diverse client list includes global Fortune 500 companies, middle-market firms poised for growth, ambitious startups, and high-profile individuals.

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Updates

Aviation

DHS postpones REAL ID deadline again
USA | 12 May 2021

The US Department of Homeland Security has again postponed the deadline for compliance with the REAL ID Act 2005. Under the REAL ID Act, federal agencies may not accept state-issued driver's licences or ID cards for 'official purposes' – including clearance through Transport Security Administration security checkpoints at airports – unless those documents meet certain minimum requirements. The deadline extension is welcome news for US airlines and the US travel industry.

Airlines and aviation contractors to receive additional $15 billion under Rescue Plan Act
USA | 24 March 2021

The Rescue Plan Act 2021 was recently signed into law, providing much-needed relief that will enable airlines and aviation contractors to keep employees on payrolls. The act provides eligible air carriers and eligible contractors with $14 billion and $1 billion in financial assistance, respectively, exclusively for the continuation of employee wages, salaries and benefits.

CDC mask mandate versus rights of passengers with disabilities
USA | 03 March 2021

Air carriers must comply with federal law that mandates mask wearing but also accommodate passengers with a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask. To guide carriers, the Department of Transport recently issued a notice of enforcement policy describing the factors which it will take into consideration when deciding how to enforce these potentially conflicting obligations.

DOT confirms that comfort animals are not service animals
USA | 23 December 2020

The US Department of Transportation has issued a new regulation which substantially revises its rules governing the transportation of service animals on board aircraft. Under the new regulation, airlines will no longer be required to transport emotional support or comfort animals in cabin. Airlines will be required to transport only service dogs (and not other species) and a passenger with a disability may bring a maximum of two service dogs in cabin.

Senate bill would require TSA temperature checks at US airports
USA | 14 October 2020

Under a bipartisan bill introduced in the US Senate, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would be required to conduct temperature checks on all passengers and other individuals seeking entry to an airport's sterile area. Airlines have been lobbying for the TSA to conduct such temperature checks for several months. During a 120-day pilot programme, the TSA would screen all individuals for a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher before they would be allowed to enter an airport's sterile area.

DOT provides airline payment flexibility for enforcement penalty during COVID-19 pandemic
USA | 29 July 2020

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) recently issued a consent order assessing a $70,000 civil penalty against Volaris, the Mexican low-cost airline, for alleged violations of the DOT's regulations governing lengthy tarmac delays. The facts of the case and the DOT's rationale for assessing violations did not break new ground, but aspects of the DOT's order may provide insights into how it is approaching enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DOT, HHS and DHS issue joint COVID-19 guidance to airlines and airports
USA | 15 July 2020

The Departments of Transportation, Health and Human Services and Homeland Security recently issued a non-binding guidance document which recommends that airports and airlines implement specific measures to mitigate public health risks associated with COVID-19, prepare for increased travel volume and ensure that aviation safety and security are not compromised.

TSA has legal authority to conduct air passenger temperature screenings
USA | 10 June 2020

As airlines seek to restore consumer confidence in air travel, they are urging the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to administer temperature screenings of all passengers at TSA airport security checkpoints. Some have questioned whether the TSA has statutory authority to do so. For its part, the TSA appears to have answered that question in the affirmative because it is reportedly preparing to administer temperature checks at more than a dozen US airports.

DOT issues new guidance regarding airlines' obligation to provide passenger refunds
USA | 27 May 2020

Passengers who no longer wish to travel due to COVID-19 concerns or who have had their flights cancelled are demanding refunds from airlines. Airlines, on the other hand, are grappling with a difficult truth: if they refund all tickets, including those purchased under the condition of being non-refundable or those cancelled by a passenger, this will result in negative cash balances that will lead to bankruptcy.

Trump announces that REAL ID compliance deadline is postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic
USA | 20 May 2020

President Trump has announced that the US Department of Homeland Security will delay the 1 October 2020 deadline for compliance with the REAL ID Act 2005 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The postponement is welcome news for US airlines and the US travel industry, which had grown increasingly concerned (well before COVID-19) that a significant number of US nationals had not yet obtained a REAL ID.

DOT to impose minimum air service obligations on carriers receiving CARES Act financial assistance
USA | 13 May 2020

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued an order proposing parameters for implementing the authority granted to the secretary of transportation under the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act. The order sets out the DOT's expectations regarding the required service levels. This article provides a summary of the key provisions.

Considerations when aviation travel is a necessity
USA | 13 May 2020

Although the idea of aircraft travel may currently be the last thing on many people's minds, for some people, access to aviation travel for business or personal reasons may be necessary even during these difficult times. Moreover, access to business jet travel in lieu of commercial flights will become even more in demand, as commercial airlines reduce the number of available flights, curtail routes or shut down operations altogether.

FAA grants airlines relief from airport slot use restrictions due to COVID-19
USA | 29 April 2020

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that US and foreign carriers that cancel or reduce service at US slot-controlled airports will not forfeit their slots. The FAA is waiving its 80% minimum use requirement for slots at certain US slot-controlled airports until 24 October 2020. Foreign carriers' retention of their slots at US airports is contingent on reciprocity.

Turbulence ahead for airlines under Montreal Convention?
USA | 22 April 2020

The current COVID-19 pandemic will no doubt be an inspiration to the plaintiffs' bar to seek redress from any and all possible targets arguably responsible for the contracting of the virus, including on behalf of someone who has recently travelled on an international flight. This article analyses the basis for potential legal exposure for international air carriers.

DOT proposes to define 'unfair' and 'deceptive' practices
USA | 01 April 2020

One of the most significant roles of the Department of Transportation (DOT) is to protect airline consumers from unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition by air carriers and ticket agents. Yet, surprisingly, the key statutory terms 'unfair' and 'deceptive' are not defined in statute and the DOT has never attempted to define them, until now. It is expected that airlines and airline trade groups will support the DOT's proposal, while consumer groups may be more sceptical.

DOT clarifies enforcement policy regarding coronavirus
USA | 25 March 2020

The Department of Transportation recently issued the Enforcement Notice Regarding Denying Boarding by Airlines of Individuals Suspected of Having Coronavirus. The enforcement notice acknowledges that medical certificates are unlikely to demonstrate whether a passenger is a direct threat, especially as there are no known measures that would prevent transmission of coronavirus in the cabin's closed environment.

Comfort animals are not service animals: DOT to narrow scope of service animal accommodations
USA | 19 February 2020

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed significant changes to its disability regulations relating to the transportation of service animals by air. The DOT's current regulations require that airlines allow passengers to travel with a wide range of animals in cabin on the basis that they are service animals or emotional support animals. This article sets out the DOT's most significant proposed changes.

Caveat lessor: OFAC fines aircraft lessor for actions of sublessee
USA | 18 December 2019

The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently announced sanctions against Apollo Aviation Group LLC for violation of the then-effective Sudan Sanctions Regulations. The takeaway from the OFAC's Apollo decision is clear: aircraft lessors cannot rely on a boilerplate lease clause to protect them; rather, they must exercise pro-active vigilance over the products that they are leasing out, know their customers and in some cases know their customers' customers.

DOT proposes revisions to airline tarmac delay regulations
USA | 13 November 2019

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend its regulations governing situations in which an aircraft remains on the airport tarmac without an opportunity for passengers to deplane for an extended period. Specifically, it proposes to change the departure delay exemption, carrier reporting requirements and record retention requirements, among others. Comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking must be filed with the DOT by 24 December 2019.

FAA plans to increase rest periods for US airline flight attendants
USA | 06 November 2019

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has begun the process of amending its regulations to require that flight attendants at US airlines receive a rest period of at least 10 consecutive hours between periods of duty lasting 14 hours or less. Under the FAA's current regulations, a flight attendant who is scheduled for a duty period of 14 hours or less must be given a scheduled rest period of at least nine consecutive hours. Comments on the advance notice are due by 12 November 2019.

TSA adopts alternative approach to enforcement against airlines and other regulated entities
USA | 09 October 2019

The Transportation Security Administration's (TSA's) new Action Plan Programme (APP), which recently went into effect, details an alternative framework for addressing security compliance issues. Rather than relying on traditional, penalty-focused civil enforcement action, the APP focuses on achieving a universally desired outcome – namely, increased aviation security. While the APP could prove beneficial to both the TSA and industry, it raises some areas of concern for airlines and other regulated parties.

OFAC issues Iran-Related Civil Aviation Industry Advisory
USA | 14 August 2019

The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently issued its Iran-Related Civil Aviation Industry Advisory. The advisory seeks to inform the civil aviation industry of potential exposure to US enforcement actions and economic sanctions for engaging in or supporting unauthorised exports to Iran or designated Iranian airlines. While no new restrictions have been announced, the advisory's publication could signal that the OFAC is taking a greater interest in the Iranian aviation sector.

No fun in the sun: Trump administration further restricts aviation traffic to Cuba
USA | 10 July 2019

The Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security recently announced rules designed to further restrict travel to Cuba, including eliminating a sub-category of authorised travel to Cuba entitled 'people-to-people educational travel'. These changes significantly restrict non-commercial aviation traffic to Cuba going forward for all persons subject to the OFAC's jurisdiction.

Reflections on Boeing's exposure following 737 MAX crashes
USA | 08 May 2019

A software issue is suggested to have played a role in the two horrific crashes involving the new Boeing 737 MAX. With this in mind, what potential theories of civil liability could Boeing be subject to by passengers and airlines that have suffered significant losses as a result of what appears to be a design flaw in this software? Further, what theories allow for criminal liability?

DOT denies petitions to initiate consumer protection rulemakings
USA | 03 April 2019

The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently denied three petitions to initiate rulemakings on various consumer protection issues proposed by FlyersRights, a consumer advocacy group. The DOT's decision to refuse to propose new regulations is consistent with the Trump administration's efforts to reduce regulatory burdens on industry. Nonetheless, the DOT appeared to be sympathetic to consumer protection concerns raised by FlyersRights.

California federal court declares drones are aircraft
USA | 06 February 2019

A recent decision from the Central District of California in Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company v Hollycal Production, Inc is somewhat groundbreaking in its significance, primarily because it is the first to address in a precedential context the long-held assumption that drones are, in fact, aircraft.

It's a bird… it's a plane… it's OSHA?
USA | 09 January 2019

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is modernising its enforcement tools with the use of camera-equipped drones. OSHA requires each of the agency's 10 regions to designate a staff member as an unmanned aircraft programme manager to oversee training requirements and evaluate reports submitted by drone teams. It further requires that drone crews follow Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

San Francisco federal judge dismisses class action claims as time barred and pre-empted by Airline Deregulation Act
USA | 19 December 2018

In an interesting decision that may have significant repercussions for air carriers, a San Francisco federal judge recently dismissed a putative class action brought against Air France based on a limitations provision set out in Air France's General Conditions of Carriage and the pre-emption provisions of the Airline Deregulation Act.

DOT convenes sexual misconduct working group for Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee
USA | 05 December 2018

The US Department of Transportation recently announced the reconstitution of the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC), including a new subcommittee: the National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force. The first ACPAC meeting will be held in January 2019 to discuss best practices and protocols for air carriers relating to sexual assault handling, reporting and data collection on board commercial aircraft.

Consumer protection following introduction of Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorisation Act
USA | 21 November 2018

The new Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorisation Act, signed into law by President Trump, will affect aviation-related consumer protection. The Department of Transportation must revise its existing regulations to clarify the laws regarding compensation, establish minimum dimensions for passenger seats that are necessary for passenger safety, prioritise boarding for pregnant women and refine airlines' practice involving pushchairs, among other issues.

Disability-related passenger rights amended by Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorisation Act
USA | 14 November 2018

The new Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorisation Act, signed into law by President Trump, will affect airlines' obligations to accommodate passengers with disabilities. The Department of Transportation must, among other things, develop an airline passengers with disabilities bill of rights to explain the protections afforded to passengers with disabilities during air travel and conduct a review of service animal requirements.

Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorisation Act: new airline fees introduced
USA | 07 November 2018

President Trump recently signed into law the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorisation Act, which will have wide-ranging implications on the aviation industry. The new law will introduce changes to airline ancillary fee refunds, the forbidding airlines from imposing ridiculous fees provision and passenger facility charges.