The Spanish authorities have issued a number of measures to remedy the impact of COVID-19 on the Spanish aviation industry. This article focuses on a specific topic especially relevant in the current circumstances – namely, the provisions and regulations that the Spanish authorities have recently approved in relation to flight cancellations and ticket refunds.
On 8 January 2019 Commercial Court No 3 of Gijón resolved a collective cessation action brought by the Association of Financial Users, a non-profit entity, against the Spanish airline Volotea relating to some of its transport terms and conditions. Although the court was asked to give its opinion on a number of Volotea's terms and conditions, this article focuses on the most significant issues discussed in this judgment.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the world has forced many governments to issue emergency legislation, generally in a hurry and as a reaction to a continuously changing scenario. Spain is among the countries which have been hit particularly hard. This article provides a summary of the main pieces of Spanish legislation that affect the aviation industry.
The Spanish government recently decided that it was time to update its internal regulations regarding the issuance, maintenance, suspension and cancellation of air operators' licences in order to bring them into line with current trends. In doing so, the government issued a new order which contains novelties that merit highlighting.
The Supreme Court (Civil Chamber) recently issued its judgment following cassation proceedings against a 2015 Madrid Provincial Audience judgment. The proceedings stemmed from a 2011 collective action against Iberia, which the Spanish Consumers and Users Organisation had filed with the Madrid Commercial Court in order to obtain the annulment of several clauses of Iberia's standard terms and conditions.
A new amendment to the Law on Air Navigation expressly recognises the rights of owners of premises in the vicinity of such airports to be indemnified for any damages arising from aircraft noise. It obliges the state to guarantee that noise quality standards are respected and to implement any necessary action plans whenever a noise easement is approved that allows an increase in those standards.
A new royal decree governs the grant, renewal, amendment and revocation by the Spanish aviation safety agency of licences granted to air navigation services providers. Meanwhile, the Autonomous Community of Madrid has been given exclusive control over airports and heliports suitable for practising aerial sports and those where commercial activities do not take place.
The provisions of Royal Decree 1919/2009 on security in civil air shows apply to all civil air shows that offer an exhibition or performance during a public event, no matter whether the show is open to the general public or has restricted access, as well as to flights that are not included in the official programme, but which are conducted to promote the show.
In a recent case the plaintiffs purchased two flight tickets to travel from Barcelona to Mexico City via London. The flight to London took off late and the plaintiffs missed their connecting flight to Mexico City. The first instance court partially accepted the plaintiffs' claim that the airline had breached its obligations and the Barcelona Provincial Court confirmed the amount of compensation determined at first instance.
Aeronautical inspection regulations have recently been passed to implement Law 21/2003. These regulations have developed the concept of safety within the law, which no longer refers to extraordinary security controls, but rather implements audit structures to assess the suitability of the safety systems and procedures continuously. The regulations provide a framework for aeronautical inspection activities.
Royal Decree 714/2009 recently entered into force, transposing into law an EU directive regarding the criteria for the conduct of ramp inspections at EU airports. The decree applies to third-country aircraft landing at airports in Spain that are open to international air traffic.
The Supreme Court has confirmed the Madrid Court of Appeal's ruling on the inapplicability of liability limitations in air transportation under Articles 22 and 25 of the Warsaw Convention. The court held that the air carrier's employees had acted recklessly, as indications in the bill of lading and on package labels were ignored.
On August 1 the Council of Ministers set out the new model for managing Spanish airports. AENA (Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea - Spanish Airports and Air Navigation) will continue to be a public entity. A new company owned entirely by AENA will manage Spanish airports. Autonomous regions will be given stakes in the management companies of airports with a sufficient number of passengers.
Many players in the sector have understood that a legal action for damages caused by an aircraft, whether in the air or on the ground, must be brought within six months of the date on which the underlying facts occurred. However, the Supreme Court has held that this term is extended for a period of one year from the acknowledgement of damages by the aggrieved party.
A new system for the management of the Spanish air regulation authority will be established pursuant to the provisions of Royal Decree 184/2008. It will be based on the division of duties currently performed by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, which will share this role with the newly created Air Safety Agency. Once incorporated, the agency will take over various duties from the directorate.
The government recently approved a royal decree to harmonize security measures required for airlines of non-EU countries with those applicable to EU member airlines. The new regulations are aimed at increasing the level of security and protection for passengers by verifying the technical and commercial capabilities of relevant airlines prior to their commencing operations in Spain.
Earlier this year the Supreme Court issued an important ruling in the context of an appeal for cassation on interlining agreements in the air transport sector. This sector has specific features that are inherent to it which allow for the possibility of certain agreements, decisions and concerted practices being exempt from the prohibition contained in the general competition rules.
Spain has a relatively complex double registration system for aircraft: aircraft are initially registered with the Administrative Registry, and then with the Movable Property Registry. The Resolution of June 5 2007 of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Development introduced the possibility of processing certain aircraft registration matters electronically in the Administrative Registry.
Royal Decree 279/2007, which establishes the requirements for the operation of civil helicopters for commercial transportation purposes, was recently published in the Official Gazette. The purpose of the decree is to incorporate into Spanish law JAR-OPS 3, which was issued by the Joint Aviation Authorities.
The leasing of aircraft among airlines is common practice in the aviation sector. Aeronautical Circular 3/2006 was recently published in the Official Gazette. The circular, which was issued by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, deals with the leasing of aircraft which have not been registered with the Aircraft Registry.