Carriers' commitment to travel at certain times implies a duty of extreme diligence to respect the terms of their offer and such commitment is essential to those who use their services. A first-instance court recently declared that Qatar Airways breached its transport contract and the obligations to its passengers following the delay and cancellation of one of its flights from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires.
In the context of deregulating the aviation sector and attracting low-cost carriers, the Ministry of Transportation recently issued Resolution 656/2018, which allows domestic carriers to charge any fare that they wish under certain circumstances. Before this resolution, domestic carriers could charge no lower than the Civil Aviation Authority threshold.
A recent National Commercial Court decision has set a favourable precedent for the aviation industry in Argentina. The court ordered the application of international conventions rather than local law and federal jurisdiction instead of commercial national jurisdiction. This application of international conventions by the Argentine courts is important, as it establishes the limited liability that is generally overlooked by domestic legislation.
A passenger filed a claim against Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA for a breach of contract after her non-stop flight to Europe was modified due to overbooking. The claimant argued that the defendant had fraudulently failed to fulfil its obligations. The Civil and Commercial Court of Appeals rejected the punitive damages awarded by the first-instance court, but increased and maintained compensation for moral and material damages, respectively.
Under Resolution 706-E/2017, airlines must inform the Argentine National Civil Administration (ANAC) of how they will reimburse the discrepancy in airport fees paid by passengers who bought tickets in 2016 and travelled on or after January 1 2017, when a fee reduction was introduced. Most of the affected airlines have now proposed ways to comply with the resolution, which should avoid summary proceedings by ANAC for non-compliance.
Two Argentine consumer associations recently filed a collective action against the majority of airlines operating in Argentina in defence of passenger rights. The claimants alleged that the carriers should reimburse the difference between the airport fee paid by passengers in 2016 when their tickets were issued for flights in 2017 and the new airport fee, which was reduced from January 1 2017.
Following the issuance of Resolution 445/16 by the Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC), the National Directorate of Air Transport was tasked with establishing a system to evaluate airlines' compliance with their flight schedules. The aim is to increase air transportation efficiency for passengers and provide the ANAC with additional tools to evaluate the performance of scheduled carriers.
A number of aviation regulations were issued in Argentina in 2016, including an executive decree to protect claims arising due to the provision of insufficient or misleading information to passengers, consignors or consignees regarding the conditions of an air transportation contract. Further, Resolution 113/16 adopts the internationally recognised system of equal treatment between operators and does not give priority to any carrier, which was not previously the case.
The crew of a commercial airline invited a VIP passenger into the cockpit for the duration of a scheduled flight. The first-instance court decided that the crew and passenger should be charged under Article 190 of the Criminal Code, as their behaviour had violated safety regulations and posed a threat to the security of the aircraft, passengers and cargo and third parties on the ground, even though no harm had been caused.
The Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) recently issued a regulation modifying and deleting previous dispositions. Resolution 445/06 states that non-compliance with ANAC-approved schedules for scheduled carriers will be subject to fines only if the carrier delays a flight without providing the required ancillary services to passengers. If the carrier has no other option than to delay a flight, no fines will be imposed so long as the carrier complies with its obligations to passengers.
The First Chamber of the Civil and Commercial Court of Appeals' ruling against two passengers who claimed to have missed their flight because of overbooking sets a good precedent, as this is a common defence for passengers in Argentina who arrive late to the airport. The court ruled that in accordance with Ministry of Economy, Public Works and Services Resolution 1532/98, the carrier had had the right to apply its no-show policy to the passengers.
New Law 27,196 has made the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of coeliac disease and access to gluten-free food a matter of national interest. The law sets out the institutions, including airlines, which must offer at least one gluten-free item. It is unclear whether the law applies to domestic carriers only, but it appears that if a passenger requests a gluten-free meal when making a booking, it must be supplied if the flight departs from Argentina.
The Civil Aviation Authority recently published a provision which amends the procedures and requirements for the approval of special or non-scheduled flights. Approval is conditional on the carrier filing the reasons for the extraordinary petition, along with supporting information and registration, airworthiness, operator and insurance certificates.
A Civil Aviation Authority resolution was recently passed that establishes a national plan for responding to aviation emergencies. The plan aims to set out the measures required to assist victims and families of aviation accidents and to compile operational and technical information relating to these events for national and foreign authorities and the media.
A new government agency to provide air navigation services was recently established. EASA is part of the Ministry of the Interior and Transportation and will provide its services for commercial and civil navigation. The agency will be governed by the legal norms and principles of private enterprise and its employee contracts will be governed by labour law.
Two new regulations were recently issued in Argentina regarding airport fees. The first regulation establishes fees that passengers must pay for regional and international flights and connections, while the second regulation sets a new security fee. Airlines, airport concessionaires and the relevant authorities are working on the implementation of the new regulations.
American Airlines recently filed an injunction action requesting the Federal Court to revoke a National Administration of Civil Aviation decision which imposed a fine for allegedly operating a non-approved scheduled flight. American Airlines claimed that the first-instance decision was based on arguments of the federal district attorney which, in its view, were erroneous.
A joint resolution was recently issued by the Argentine Tax Agency, the National Immigration Directorate, the National Administration of Civil Aviation and the Aeronautical Police. The resolution aims to control safety and risks in the commercial aviation sector, and introduce measures to prevent conflict, terrorism and threats to aviation and to combat drug and human trafficking.
A mandatory mediation procedure under a certified mediator is a condition precedent for bringing a complaint in court where a claimant alleges damages under – or non-compliance with – the terms and conditions of the Aeronautical Code, as well as cases triggered by the Warsaw Convention. The system has proved to be effective in reducing legal fees for airlines and offering new ways to avoid the courts.
The Central Bank recently issued a communication on the sale of international airline tickets and tickets for tourist services in Argentina or abroad to a non-Argentinian resident, which restricts the methods of payment for such tickets. If the relevant conditions are not met, any amount resulting from such sales will not be permitted for referral abroad. This raises concerns for international carriers operating in Argentina.