The Immigration Authority (DNM) repeatedly imposes substantial fines on carriers. Despite the fact that in many cases these fines have been wrongly imposed, airlines must pay any outstanding fines in order to file a judicial complaint against the DNM, so the fines are widely viewed as another cost of operating in Argentina. That said, a number of airlines have recently challenged the DNM's fines and the courts have given a clear sign that, even with the above difficulties, it is worth challenging this legal loophole.
In a recent Federal Civil and Commercial Court 2 case, the plaintiffs filed a complaint for damages for a rescheduled flight after a mandatory mediation hearing ended without a settlement. However, the court found that the change of flight schedule had complied with civil aviation and consumer rules. As a result, it rejected the claim and imposed legal costs on the losing party.
It is not unusual for immigration authorities to pursue airlines for infringements of the passenger documentation requirements which travellers must meet in order to enter a country. Argentina is no exception and the Immigration Authority (DNM) has been incentivised to detect passenger documentation infringements and collect fines from air carriers. However, a number of recent decisions regarding the DNM's imposition of fines in such cases could mark a turning point with regard to this issue.
The Federal Court recently heard a case in which two passengers claimed damages from Aeromexico after they had been ordered to disembark an aircraft for being disruptive. The case provides an insight into the question of whether consumer protection law trumps flight security concerns.
The Civil and Commercial Court of Appeals recently overturned a first-instance decision concerning a laptop lost on an Aeromexico flight from New York to Buenos Aires. The first-instance court had ordered Aeromexico to pay damages, but the appeal court found that the model of the lost laptop had never been sold in Argentina and that the plaintiff had neither proved that her laptop had been packed in her luggage nor made her claim in a timely manner.
In recent years, there has been significant growth in air traffic to and from The Bahamas. As a result, the government has taken proactive steps to support this growth – notably, with upgrades to several of the country's busiest airports. For example, the Nassau Airport Development Company recently commenced a major rehabilitation project at the Lynden Pindling International Airport. This project will, among other things, include an asphalt upgrade to increase the runway's lifespan.
The Bahamas' flight information region airspace comprises tens of thousands of miles and is subject to significant overflight activity. Moreover, it is one of the most important airspaces and is worth millions in revenue. To further enhance the civil aviation sector, the government is seeking to create a self-funded and sustainable management programme in order to collect overflight fees, while paying the US Federal Aviation Administration a fee for the management of its airspace.
The Bahamian government continues to make progress towards enhancing its aircraft registry and ratifying the Cape Town Convention. For example, the Aviation Steering Committee (ASC) recently presented draft legislation to implement the Cape Town Convention to the Attorney General's Office. The ASC expects this draft legislation to be approved and presented to the Cabinet before the next government budget communication in Summer 2019.
For the first time, The Bahamas has embarked on an ambitious project to develop a national aviation policy to better coordinate and facilitate civil aviation activities to, from and within the country. Further, the ratification of the Cape Town Convention will better position The Bahamas as a key player in the global industry in terms of financing and leasing aircraft and will allow the country to compete in the aviation industry on a global level.
The Bahamas is ripe with opportunity and well positioned in what has become a new global industry within the civil aviation sector. The numerous remote islands in the country afford many possibilities regarding the operation and testing of drones as they become more sophisticated and start to be used for various operations. Drone operators, whether commercial or recreational, must be mindful of privacy, data collection and use and nuisance.
The Council of Ministers recently approved preliminary draft legislation amending the Passenger Data Processing Act. Among other things, the proposed changes concern the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data, data exchanges and the cross-checking of passenger data following the identification of suspicious passengers. The changes aim to bring the act into line with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
A number of recent aircraft repossession actions have demonstrated that a majority of judges have correctly recognised lessor rights to repossession in the face of apparent lease agreement defaults. However, these decisions have not clearly cited the Cape Town Convention as their basis. The Brazilian judiciary's failure to unify repossession actions against a bankrupt lessee in a single court has meant that some lessors are subject to minority view decisions that can be upheld on appeal.
Following developments earlier in 2019, aircraft repossession has continued to be in the spotlight – yet again with regard to the Oceanair Linhas Aéreas SA (commonly known as 'Avianca Brazil') bankruptcy and, in particular, the experience of lessors that sought repossession of leased aircraft therefrom. In this case, and contrary to Avianca Brazil's pre-bankruptcy experience, a bankruptcy court failed to uphold the express provisions of the Bankruptcy Law 2005 and the Cape Town Convention
In respect of four aircraft that were recently repossessed before Avianca Brazil obtained bankruptcy protection, the Brazilian judiciary and civil aviation agency procedures worked reasonably well and Brazil's overall performance complied with its obligations under the Cape Town Convention. While all four aircraft were exported and de-registered within approximately two weeks, Brazilian customs authorities must still reassess the current export authorisation procedure.
A tax regulation that was promulgated in 2016 has taken effect in ways that are now affecting aircraft lessors and lenders to Brazilian carriers, including by imposing requirements concerning the identification of lessor entities' ultimate beneficial owners and increasing the document disclosure requirements on lessors and lenders in cross-border aircraft finance transactions. While the full impact of the new rules is still unclear, lessors and lenders to Brazilian operators should prepare to comply.
Interchange agreements are relatively new and have been increasingly used by commercial aircraft operators in Brazil. In response to industry requests, the Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency and the Brazilian Aeronautical Registry recently clarified several applicable rules. Due to their novelty, interchange agreements are not always understood in the industry. While such agreements share some similarities with interline and code-share agreements, they have important distinctions.
A recent decision from the Ontario Small Claims Court marks the first time that a Canadian court has considered whether EU air passenger rights legislation can be enforced outside Europe. This decision will be of interest to carriers operating flights between Canada and Europe, as it holds that a tariff that does not expressly incorporate the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation will not expose a carrier to breach of contract claims brought in Canada for declining to pay compensation under the regulation.
Following several rounds and many months of consultations, the government recently announced that the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPRs) developed by the Canadian Transportation Agency have been finalised. The APPRs apply to all flights within, from or to Canada, whether operated by a Canadian or foreign airline. Once in effect, the regulations will impose obligations on carriers in cases of tarmac delays, denied boarding and delayed and cancelled flights.
Three dozen Canadian airports may be on the hook for fees charged to airline employees flying on employee travel passes. A proposed class action has been commenced in the Federal Court of Canada claiming compensation for airline employees who paid certain fees which the representative plaintiff claims should not have been paid pursuant to agreements signed by the defendant airports.
The Quebec Superior Court of Justice recently ruled against Air Canada in a class action brought by passengers with disabilities, their attendants and obese passengers who had been required to pay for additional seats on flights. This decision confirms that carriers that do not abide by a 'one passenger one ticket' policy may be liable for discriminating against passengers with disabilities and obese passengers who require more than one seat.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently ruled that in order to claim damages for lost luggage under the Montreal Convention, a passenger need not have personally checked the luggage. This decision partially affirms a decision of the province's Small Claims Court, in which the deputy judge held that, despite only one passenger in a group having checked in all of the bags, each passenger had been entitled to claim damages for lost luggage.