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.
A federal court recently dismissed a lawsuit against El Al Israel Airlines which had been filed by an Argentine passenger based on a lack of jurisdiction as set out by Article 33 of the Montreal Convention. The court examined the different hypothesis described by Article 33 and found that the claimant had failed to file a lawsuit against El Al before the courts where it was domiciled or had its principal place of business, where the contract had been made or before the courts of the claimant's planned destination.
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.
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 Bahamian authorities recently embarked on an ambitious project to reform and enhance the country's civil aviation sector. These efforts will enhance the country's standing in the global arena, where aviation is experiencing considerable and dynamic growth. Such growth will benefit not only the country's civil aviation sector, but also its financial services and private sectors.
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.
In the aftermath of the numerous terrorist attacks in the European Union, EU member states agreed that additional measures were needed regarding the use of passenger name record data. Belgium has implemented a legal framework for passenger name record data based on EU legislation. It is hoped that the framework will enable all actors to achieve the main aim of fighting terrorist threats and serious crime.
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.
For the past few months, the Brazilian Aeronautical Registry has experimented with a new electronic filing system that allows parties to file documents electronically 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This system is now operative for documents relating to commercial aircraft. Documents relating to private aircraft, business aircraft and helicopters are still being filed physically. The new electronic system is expected to become available to them during the second half of 2017.
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.
The Quebec Supreme Court recently declined to certify a class action based on the application of certain sections of the Consumer Protection Act or its Alberta equivalent to flight passes sold by Air Canada. This decision is notable for carriers selling flight passes, as it clarifies the types of transaction which are subject to consumer protection laws. Carriers which sell gift cards representing a fixed monetary value should be aware of their obligations under consumer protection laws.