Tuesday, March 31, 2009

IATA Welcomes Abolition of Dutch Tax

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the decision by the Dutch Government to abolish the recently introduced departure tax as part of its economic stimulus package. The tax added a cost of between EUR 11.25 to EUR 45 for every passenger departing from Dutch airports.

Source: IATA press release No 12 of 27 March 2009; find full text here>>.

Monday, March 30, 2009

China: Tibet to be reopened to foreign tourists

China says it will reopen Tibet to foreign tourists in early April. The region has recently been closed to travellers because of security fears in regard to a number of sensitive anniversaries. The Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Tibet's head of tourism as saying the region was now "harmonious and safe".

However, there is still a heavy Chinese military presence in the area, and foreign journalists and human rights groups cannot operate freely.

Source: BBC News; find article here>>.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Single European Sky II

SES II is a package of regulations aiming to improve the performance of the European aviation system in key areas such as safety, capacity, flight, cost efficiency and environmental sustainability, through the coordination and supervision of Member States' air traffic and the implementation of common rules and performance targets.

Binding targets for performance and sustainability of Europe's aviation system

Performance schemes for air navigation services, using criteria based on International Civil Aviation Organization policies, will be introduced through national or regional plans subject to consultation with stakeholders. Member States must use incentives and sanctions to prompt air navigation service providers to meet the targets. Independent national supervisory bodies will be appointed by Members States to ensure safety and performance standards are met.

Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) are a key development. International flights currently have to pass through national air traffic control zones or "blocks", being handed over from one national authority to another. This system leads to bottlenecks and delays, forcing aircraft to consume more fuel and jeopardising safety.

An important feature of the first Single Sky package was supposed to be the introduction of FABs, cutting across national frontiers to enable air traffic controllers to manage flights in a more rational way. Around nine European FABs have so far been designed - including a single UK-Ireland zone - but it is felt that insufficient progress has been made.

The new regulation will give a fresh impetus to this project by stipulating that FABs must be established no later than three years after entry into force of the regulation (i.e. by June 2012). A coordinator will be appointed to facilitate the implementation of, and the merger between, the blocks. Funding will be made available from the Trans-European Network programme and the European Investment Bank and from the inclusion of aviation in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Regulations on Performance and sustainability of the European aviation system and on Aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services.

The Council (of EU transport ministers) is expected to approve the legislation at the end of March.

Source: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/062-52484-082-03-13-910-20090324IPR52483-23-03-2009-2009-false/default_en.htm

USA: airline pornography suit settled

An attorney for a former United Airlines pilot says her client's lawsuit against the U.S. airline over pornographic items found on flights has been settled, preventing it from going to U.S. District Court. Due to a related nondisclosure agreement no specifics were given.

The lawsuit alleged the former United Airlines pilot routinely found pornographic photographs in airplane cockpits during domestic airline flights. She sued the airline for not taking appropriate measures to catch the individuals leaving the photographs behind.

Source: UPI.com; find article here>>.

USA: Georgia Supreme Court prolongs court case on Atlanta tax suit against online travel firms

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday revived a hotly contested lawsuit by the city of Atlanta against online travel companies that claims the firms are illegally pocketing millions of dollars in hotel tax revenue. The city filed suit in 2006 against 17 Internet travel reservation companies, including Expedia, Travelocity.com, Hotels.com, Priceline.com and Obitz. The suit seeks to recoup hotel and occupancy taxes. In a 5-2 decision, the court told a Fulton County judge to decide whether the online companies are subject to the tax.

Source: eTurboNews, find article here>>.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Germany: air ticket sale through internet portals lawful

In a recent decision of March 5, 2009 (6 U 221/08) German appelate court Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt am Main held that it is lawful to run an internet portal which uses a webcrawler to search the online offers of an airline, displays destinations, flight details and prices and provides for online booking.

Such "Screen Scraping" would neither infringe a right of the airline to undisturbed posession of virtual premises nor database copyrights.

Source: Press release of OLG Frankfurt/Main, avialable in German here>>.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hawaii: Supreme Court ruling on Superferry under fire

The state Supreme Court ruled last Monday that a law allowing Superferry to operate before completion of a related environmental study was unconstitutional because of being written specifically for Superferry. The court said the state Constitution prevents the Legislature from favoring a single entity. However, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle announced she will ask the court to reconsider the decision which she regards as a mistake. Senate President Colleen Hanabusa thinks the Supreme Court overstepped its power in the case.

Source: Honolulu Advertiser; find article here>>.

ASEAN. fight against child sex tourism

During the Southeast Asian Conference on Child Sex Tourism in Bali, last week ASEAN countries promised greater efforts to free the region from child sex tourism.
As reportesd by the Jakarta Post, over 60,000 children in the region are being exploited in commercial sexual businesses.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Vice-President Antonio Tajani launches an investigation into lost luggage figures"

According to the EU Press Room, "The lost luggage phenomenon when travelling by air has been brought to the attention of the European Commission. Some recent figures published by the UK Air Transport Council (AUC) confirm the concerns expressed by Vice-President Tajani's, in charge of Transport. Vice-President Tajani decided today to take immediate measures on passenger rights starting with an investigation on the scale of the phenomenon. The European Commission's Directorate-General for Transport and Energy will ask today for information from the Airports International Council, and the Association of European Airlines and other parties concerned. The Commission will also contact AUC that was the first to reveal this information. "Safeguarding passenger rights is an essential component of European transport policy. The European Commission wants to be close to its citizens, providing them with solutions to the problems they encounter. It is for this reason that I have decided to act immediately so as to shed some light on these alarming figures which, if they were to be confirmed, would call for a strong political intervention," said Vice-President Tajani. The European Commission is evaluating the effective application of Regulation 889/2002 on luggage loss and damage. At the end of this investigation the Commission will then assess whether any improvements to the Regulation are required."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

corr: ECJ-Judgment re cabin baggage

Case C‑345/06 (Gottfried Heinrich), Judgment as of 10. March 2009

Preliminary ruling in the course of an action brought by Mr Heinrich against the Austrian authorities after they had refused him access on board an aeroplane on the ground that he was carrying tennis racquets in his cabin baggage, those objects being regarded by those authorities as articles prohibited by an unpublished (!) annex to a civil aviation security regulation 2320/2002/EC:

The annex to Commission Regulation (EC) No 622/2003 of 4 April 2003 laying down measures for the implementation of the common basic standards on aviation security, as amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No 68/2004 of 15 January 2004, which was not published in the Official Journal of the European Union, has no binding force in so far as it seeks to impose obligations on individuals.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Canada: free addtional seat for disabled, obese passengers

Upon decision of Canadian Supreme Court, refusing to consider the carriers' appeal of a federal order, Canada's two largest airlines have to give disabled and morbidly obese passengers an extra free seat on domestic flights. The Supreme Court, by convention, gave no reason for the refusal to intervene in the case.

Source: canada.com; find article here>>.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

"Brussels, 5 March 2009 Commission adopts new rules for the introduction of personal consignments of animal products into the EU"

According to the EU Press Room, "The European Commission adopted today a Regulation on the introduction into the EU of animal products by travellers. The Regulation will enter into force on 1 May 2009 and replace the rules that are currently in place. This new legislation intends to clearly explain to the general public the rules concerning the introduction of animal products into the European Union. Indeed, animal products brought into the EU by travellers or sent through the post, could pose a risk to the health of EU livestock by carrying with them certain animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease or other diseases that may also affect humans. The general public therefore plays an important role in keeping such diseases out of the EU."

This release is available in full text.