The Munich Regional Court recently addressed the promotion of error fares by an online portal for cheap flights, hotels and travel packages in Germany. The promotions, which had encouraged customers to book error fares for flights published accidentally by airlines, were deemed unlawful due to a deliberate obstruction of competition in contravention of the Act Against Unfair Competition. The court's decision is appropriate considering the high number of consumers reached by online portals.
The Federal Court of Justice recently clarified the liability of airlines with respect to passenger rights and information obligations when a flight is operated under a wet lease. EU Regulation 261/2004 defines an 'operating air carrier' as an air carrier that performs or intends to perform a flight under a contract with a passenger or on behalf of another person having a contract with that passenger. The Federal Court of Justice held that in case of a wet lease, the lessee must be regarded as the operating air carrier.
The Federal Supreme Court recently issued a decision regarding the right to a refund of the ticket price following the cancellation of non-refundable tariffs. The decision highlights that a passenger can waive his or her right to cancel a ticket so long as that passenger makes an informed decision. This secures an air carrier's flexibility in offering a wide range of different ticket prices and ensures lively competition.
In Germany, a carrier is, in general, value added tax (VAT) liable along the domestic part of the flight route. However, it is possible for the carrier to apply for VAT remission according to the VAT Act. If the carrier is a German entity, the remission applies without further requirements other than an invoice without VAT. In contrast, if the carrier is a foreign entity, the tax relief must be mutual (ie, the state of the registered office of the foreign carrier must grant tax relief to German carriers as well).
The State of Hesse has decided to implement the use of drones. For this purpose, the police acquired four drones to help with their work in the region starting in February 2018. In order to operate the drones, each of the eight future drone pilots must complete a two-week workshop containing theoretical and practical modules. The drones will be used at accident sites and crime scenes in particular.
In January 2018 the single African air transport market (SAATM) was formally launched. Its principal objective stems from the Yamoussoukro Decision, which provided for the full liberalisation of intra-African air transport services in terms of market access. The SAATM is a welcome development; however, to reap the full potential of the initiative, the African Union must do all that is necessary to ensure that the resources, infrastructure and capacity required to grow the aviation sector are available.
The African Union endorsed the Yamoussoukro Decision in 2000 and it became fully binding in 2002. Its rationale was the need to foster socio-economic development in Africa – policymakers recognised that aviation and a competitive aviation market could be decisive for unlocking Africa's economic potential. However, the agreement has not been fully implemented by its signatories.
The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations – the only standard recognised by airlines – contain the globally applicable provisions for shipping dangerous goods by air. A violation of the regulations might lead to criminal proceedings and infringements are a notifiable fact to be reported to the competent authority. In order to assist shippers in understanding the complete requirements, IATA has prepared the Lithium Battery Shipping Guidelines.
A key component which promotes growth in the aviation industry is the availability of capital to finance aircraft transactions. Although the existing methods for financing aircraft are acceptable, they have some notable flaws. Conversely, a number of possible benefits exist for airlines that choose to accept digital currency for financing transactions in the sector.
After years of protracted negotiations, the General Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation recently created the first global market-based measure to attempt to contain aviation emissions. However, the new scheme has significant limitations, leaves questions unanswered and mechanics undetermined, and – in the view of many non-governmental organisations – does not sufficiently address the ongoing dangers posed by aviation greenhouse gas emissions.
The Jerusalem Small Claims Court and the Netanya Small Claims Court both recently dismissed compensation claims for baggage delays, as the passengers did not comply with the Montreal Convention, according to which a complaint must be submitted within 21 days from the date of receipt of the baggage. However, the latter court ordered the airline to cover the plaintiffs' expenses, holding that the plaintiffs had clearly approached the court in good faith and that the airline's conduct had been inappropriate.
The Tel Aviv Magistrates Court recently declined a passenger's claim for bodily injury damages after it concluded that the event which was the subject matter of the claim was not considered to be an 'accident' as defined by the Montreal Convention. The plaintiff had filed a claim against El Al, arguing that he had been injured after eating a cake served to passengers.
The Rehovot Magistrate Court recently ruled that a flight that had departed on time, but been forced to return to the point of departure following a five-hour flight due to technical malfunctions, was a cancelled flight in accordance with the Aviation Services Law. Although there is no binding precedent, the courts have – in lower-instance decisions concerning the law – applied it in cases where the circumstances did not meet the literal interpretation of the law regarding cancelled flights.
The Jerusalem Magistrates Court recently dismissed a claim for bodily injury caused to a passenger during a flight, as the claim had been filed more than two years after the plaintiff had reached his destination. The court referred to the Montreal Convention and the Carriage by Air Law, which provide that the right to a claim will be extinguished after a two-year period, despite the local Limitation Law providing a seven-year limitation period from the date of an admission of liability.
Since 2012 various lower court judgments have held that technical malfunctions which cause delays or cancellations to flights are not considered 'special circumstances' which exempt the carrier from paying the monetary compensation set by the Aviation Services Law. However, the Netanya Small Claims Court recently denied a claim and determined that a technical malfunction in an aircraft which caused a flight delay constituted special circumstances.
The Rome Division of the Tax Commission recently ordered the full refund of debit notes issued by the Lazio region to a foreign carrier for payment of the tax on aircraft noise pursuant to Regional Law 2/2013. The Tax Commission stated that the carrier had not breached EU Directive 2002/30/EC. Accordingly, it cancelled the debit notes issued by the Lazio region to the foreign carrier and ordered a complete refund of the tax paid by the carrier under the tax on aircraft noise.
The most recent Italian case law has upheld the European Court of Justice's interpretation of EU Regulation 261/2004 in Wallentin-Hermann and Van der Lans by qualifying a hidden manufacturing defect as an 'extraordinary circumstance' under the meaning of Article 5(3) of the regulation and rejecting passenger claims for compensation under Article 7 of the regulation.
In a recent decree the Ministry for the Economic Development started the extraordinary administration procedure for Alitalia pursuant to Law 39/2004 and appointed commissioners to lead the company throughout the procedure. The main purpose of the extraordinary administration is to implement a recovery plan meant to preserve employment levels through the financial restructuring of the company, the sale of the business as a whole or the sale of the business, assets and contracts part by part.
The Competition Authority has often fined airlines for imposing limits on round-trip tickets which force passengers to take flights in the order listed on the original ticket (ie, the so-called 'no-show rule'). The Council of State recently found this rule to be lawful. However, to protect consumer rights, the rule must strike a balance between the commercial needs of airlines and consumer rights. This decision confirms the increased focus on consumer rights without neglecting the commercial needs of airlines.
Italian courts are facing an increase in judicial claims by debt collection companies for denied boarding and the cancellation and delay of flights pursuant to EU Regulation 261/2004. The claims are based on the assignment of passenger rights to compensation under the regulation. The increase in judicial claims has led to jurisdictional and legal entitlement issues which have been resolved by different Italian court approaches.
The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) Act 2015 enables MAVCOM to serve as the economic regulator for civil aviation in Malaysia, with the goal of promoting a commercially viable, consumer-oriented and resilient civil aviation industry which supports the nation's economic growth. The first amendment to the act recently came into force. Among other things, it makes changes to the definition of 'air traffic right', expands MAVCOM's powers and imposes financial penalties.
As air travel becomes more accessible to the public, especially with the proliferation of low-cost travel options, the issue of safeguarding consumers' interests has attracted increasing attention. The government has chosen to regulate airline service standards by introducing the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code. The code aims to strike the right balance between protecting passengers and industry competitiveness.