The Italian Air Carrier Association recently challenged the authorisation granted to Emirates in respect of slots and traffic rights to extend its daily flights from Dubai to Milan onwards to New York, alleging that it breached the Chicago Convention, Italian law and the bilateral agreement between Italy and the United Arab Emirates. The court accepted this challenge and nullified the authorisation, although Emirates' appeal is pending.
The Italian Competition Authority recently issued two decisions against leading European low-cost airlines Ryanair and easyJet, fining them €850,000 and €200,000 respectively, for misleading commercial practices. The authority held that both airlines had failed to provide adequate information in respect of the optional purchase of travel insurance for prospective flight cancellations.
Two recent cases of 'fifth freedom' rights granted by the Italian Civil Aviation Authority to foreign carriers have characterised the mood of the Italian air transport sector of late. In both cases domestic competitors have challenged the relevant authorisations before the courts. The cases concern the rights of Emirates and Qatar Airways to perform long-haul routes to the United States while flying through Milan Malpensa Airport.
Both the Italian carriers' association and the Italian airport association have raised concerns over the effects of the new regional tax on aircraft noise. The Italian Competition Authority recently responded to these concerns by issuing a communication to Parliament and the government under the Competition and Fair Trading Act regarding the competition distortions caused by the varied implementation of the tax.
Law 342/2000 established a tax on aircraft noise, mainly with the aim of financing airport monitoring systems and anti-pollution measures, as well as indemnifying communities living near airports. However, the regional laws implementing the tax have been contested by both the Italian air carriers' association and the Italian airport association, which have underlined the negative impact of the tax on the air transport market.
A planning agreement has finally been approved between the Italian Civil Aviation Authority and Società Aeroporti di Roma, which manages the two Rome airports. However, the new regulatory framework has failed to secure a widespread positive consensus, and the Italian air carriers' association has challenged the agreement before the Administrative Court of Rome.
The government recently approved a law amending financial regulations for the aviation sector, which the local media has named the 'anti-Ryanair rule'. This is because the measure is thought to target the Irish airline, which, despite operating an important part of the Italian transportation market within Italian territory, is not subject to certain Italian laws and regulations on tax, labour and passenger rights.
The first application by an Italian airline has been filed for the concordato preventivo in continuità procedure, a new form of arrangement with creditors which has similarities to US Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The new procedure could be an effective way to assist airlines in restructuring their business and regaining competitiveness in the market.
After months of negotiations the planning agreement between the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) and SEA Group has entered into force. The new system provides an investment plan, expected traffic forecast and the fee trend to ensure that the management company can cover costs. The agreement could represent a benchmark for all agreements to be signed by ENAC with the largest Italian airports.
The Italian press recently reported that Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair had overtaken Alitalia as the largest carrier in Italy. Although Ryanair denies this, the coverage has raised the question of whether the airline has a de facto permanent business establishment in Italy and is therefore subject to certain provisions of Italian law on tax obligations, treatment of employees, passenger rights and regulatory issues
In line with a worldwide trend in the air transport sector, Alitalia has identified Blue Panorama Airlines SpA and Wind Jet SpA as potential merger targets. A national consumer association has already asked the Antitrust Authority to refuse clearance, alleging that Alitalia would be in a position to apply predatory pricing strategies to reduce significant competition on certain routes.
The Antitrust Authority has recently examined a merger between two Italian carriers which resulted in the consolidation of their flight operations under joint control. It analysed either geographical or product markets for all services involved, including scheduled flights, non-scheduled flights, cargo services and tour operator services.
ENAC, the Italian civil aviation authority, has recently issued significant measures in the field of ground-handling services. The key changes relate to self-handling - that is, arrangements whereby airlines provide handling services to their own flights and passengers - and the requirements for subcontracting.
New procedures are in force for non-EU air carriers with permission to operate scheduled services to and from Italy. The procedures apply when an operator wishes to change planned flight operations and schedules that have previously been authorised by ENAC, the Italian civil aviation authority. Among other things, they affect certain rerouting, additional flights and replacement aircraft.
Many air operators in Europe would agree that the EU Denied Boarding Regulation is in need of a thorough review, particularly in light of the Sturgeon judgment. The problems of the denied boarding regime are exacerbated in Italy, which faces a number of specific issues not necessarily shared by other EU countries. A number of amendments or improvements would be widely welcomed.
ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, recently issued a circular which introduces significant innovations relating to the procedures and conditions required for wet lease agreements undertaken by national air carriers. The new circular promises to make licensing procedures for aeroplane and helicopter rentals simpler and more flexible.
An Italian consumer association has asked ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, to consider creating an indemnity fund to protect air travellers from the consequences of service problems, such as delays, flight cancellations, overbooking and lost luggage. However, creating such a fund will not help carriers or handling companies, and could even be damaging.
Following the failed bomb attack on a US flight from Amsterdam to Detroit at the end of 2009, the use of scanning technology in airport security has become an even more urgent issue. ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, is trialling two types of full-body scanner and has considered some of the issues arising from their use.
ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, now requires every Italian airport with over 2 million passengers a year to establish an airport board with the aim of achieving "continuing improvement in the regularity and quality of airport services". The new system acknowledges the need for a new relationship between ENAC, airport management companies, air carriers and ground services suppliers.
ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, recently issued a circular on certain procedures and issues related to the allocation of slots at coordinated airports. In addition to clarifying the roles of Italy's coordinator and an airport's coordination committee, the circular sets out the consequences of failing to comply with a slot allocation.