Monday, December 22, 2008

ECJ Case C-549/07 (Wallentin-Hermann v Alitalia)


Judgement to be published 5pm today!

Compensation may however be refused if the technical problems stem from events which, by their nature or origin, are not inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier and are beyond its actual control

The Regulation 261/2004/EC on compensation and assistance to air passengers provides that, in case of cancellation of a flight, the passengers concerned have the right to compensation by the air carrier unless they are informed of the cancellation of the flight in due time. An air carrier is not however obliged to pay that compensation if it can prove that the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

Mrs Wallentin-Hermann booked three seats on a flight with Alitalia from Vienna to Brindisi (Italy) via Rome for herself, her husband and her daughter. The flight was scheduled to depart from Vienna on 28 June 2005 at 6.45 a.m. and to arrive at Brindisi on the same day at 10.35 a.m. After checking in, the three passengers were informed, five minutes before the scheduled departure time, that their flight had been cancelled. They were subsequently transferred to an Austrian Airlines flight to Rome, where they arrived at 9.40 a.m., that is 20 minutes after the time of departure of their connecting flight to Brindisi, which they therefore missed. Mrs Wallentin-Hermann and her family arrived at Brindisi at 14.15 p.m.

The cancellation of the Alitalia flight from Vienna resulted from a complex engine defect in the turbine which had been discovered the day before during a check. Alitalia had been informed of the defect during the night preceding that flight. The repair of the aircraft, which necessitated the dispatch of spare parts and engineers, was completed on 8 July 2005.

Following Alitalia’s refusal to pay her compensation of EUR 250 and EUR 10 for telephone charges, Mrs Wallentin-Hermann brought legal proceedings. Alitalia having lodged an appeal
against the judgment at first instance which found against it, the Commercial Court, Vienna, must now decide whether the technical problems which led to the cancellation of the flight were covered by ‘extraordinary circumstances’ which exempt from the obligation to pay compensation. The Commercial Court made a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Communities to enable it to interpret that concept.

In its judgment of today, the Court finds that in the light of the specific conditions in which carriage by air takes place and the degree of technological sophistication of aircraft, air carriers are confronted as a matter of course in the exercise of their activity with various technical problems to which the operation of those aircraft inevitably gives rise. The resolution of a technical problem caused by failure to maintain an aircraft must therefore be regarded as inherent in the normal exercise of an air carrier’s activity. Consequently, technical problems which come to light during maintenance of aircraft or on account of failure to carry out such maintenance do not constitute, in themselves, ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

However, it is not ruled out that technical problems are covered by ‘exceptional circumstances’ to the extent that they stem from events which are not inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned and are beyond its actual control. That would be the case, for example, in the situation where it was revealed by the manufacturer of the aircraft comprising the fleet of the air carrier concerned, or by a competent authority, that those aircraft, although already in service, are affected by a hidden manufacturing defect which impinges on flight safety. The same would hold for damage to aircraft caused by acts of sabotage or terrorism.

The Court states that, since not all extraordinary circumstances confer exemption, the onus is on the party seeking to rely on them to establish that, even if it had deployed all its resources in terms of staff or equipment and the financial means at its disposal, it would clearly not have been able – unless it had made intolerable sacrifices in the light of the capacities of its undertaking at the relevant time – to prevent the extraordinary circumstances with which it was confronted from leading to the cancellation of the flight. The fact that an air carrier has complied with the minimum rules on maintenance of an aircraft cannot in itself suffice to establish that that carrier has taken all reasonable measures so that it is relieved of its obligation to pay compensation.

Source: Court Press Release No 100/08

Sunday, December 21, 2008

USA: couple sues United Airlines for violent marital quarrel

Airlines are frequently sued for the acts of drunken passengers, typically by flight attendants or other passengers who suffered harm from an unruly traveler during a flight. But this time a husband and wife are suing United Airlines for "negligently" overserving alcohol during a flight from Osaka, Japan, to San Francisco, saying the carrier's drinks fueled domestic violence between them. The lawsuit is may hinge on whether the airline, in effect, operated a flying bar subject to the same legal liabilities as earthbound drinking establishments. But as the alleged over-serving occurred on an airplane crossing the Pacific Ocean, it may be subject to protocols spelled out under the Warsaw Convention.

Source:; find article here>>.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Judgment by CFI (ECJ) re Ryanair v Commission and AEA

Case T-196/04 (Eighth Chamber, extended composition)
Judgment as of Dec 17, 2008

State aid regarding an agreements entered into by the Walloon Region and the Brussels South Charleroi airport with the claimant

Application of the private investor in a market economy test according to Art 87 ECT

The applicant, Ryanair Ltd, is Europe’s original and largest low fares airline. It has pioneered in Europe the ‘low cost’ business model, which involves minimising costs and maximising efficiency in all areas of its business so as to offer the lowest fares in every market and thereby attract high passenger volumes.
At the beginning of November 2001 Ryanair entered into two separate agreements (‘the agreements at issue’), one with the Walloon Region, the owner of Charleroi Airport, the other with Brussels South Charleroi Airport (BSCA): [para 5 et seq]
  1. Granting Ryanair a reduction of some 50% as compared with the regulatory level of landing charges and undertook to compensate Ryanair for any loss of profit arising directly or indirectly from any change by decree or regulation of airport charges or opening hours;
  2. Undertaking to base between two and four aircraft at Charleroi Airport and to operate, over a fifteen-year period, at least three rotations a day per aircraf and also undertaking, in the event of its ‘substantial withdrawal’ from the airport, to reimburse all or part of the payments made by BSCA
Those measures were not notified to the Commission. [para 10]
On 12 February 2004, having analysed the comments of the interested parties and of the Kingdom of Belgium, the Commission adopted Decision 2004/393/EC concerning advantages granted by the Walloon Region and Brussels South Charleroi Airport to the airline Ryanair in connection with its establishment at Charleroi (OJ 2004 L 137, p. 1) [para 12]
The Commission concluded that ‘the advantages granted to Ryanair by the Walloon Region and by BSCA are State aid according to Art 87 para 1 ECT. The Commission essentially concludes that the aid granted by the Walloon Region is incompatible with the common market and furthermore that the Commission considers that aid for the opening of new routes, where the amount does not exceed 50% of the start-up costs and the duration is less than five years, is compatible with the common market. [para 17 et seqq]

The Court of First Instance of the European Communities annuled the Commission Decision in dispute 2004/393/EC of Feb 12, 2004 on the grounds, that
While it is clearly necessary, when the State acts as an undertaking operating as a private investor, to analyse its conduct by reference to the private investor principle, application of that principle must be excluded in the event that the State acts as a public authority. [para 85]
It must be held that the actions of the Walloon Region were economic activities. The fixing of the amount of landing charges and the accompanying indemnity is an activity directly connected with the management of airport infrastructure, which is an economic activity. [para 88]
In light of all of the foregoing, it must be concluded that the Commission’s refusal to examine together the advantages granted by the Walloon Region and by BSCA and to apply the private investor principle to the measures adopted by the Walloon Region in spite of the economic links binding those two entities is vitiated by an error in law. [para 102]
Consequently, in light of the Commission’s error of law, the claims of the applicant must be upheld and the contested decision must be annulled; there is no need to examine the arguments in support of the first plea in law. [para 105]
The Judgment ist available in full text >>here<< and several languages: just change the 2 letters after "lang=" within the link

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Europe and Canada agree to open-skies deal

The European Union and Canada have agreed to an open-skies planthat will make Europe-Canada one of the most liberal aviation markets in the world. When the plan is completely phased in, European nationals will be able to establish operations in Canada and freely invest in Canadian airlines, and vice versa. Consumer-protection provisions also will be included.

The deal is considerably more liberal than the U.S.-E.U. aviation agreement, because it includes a commitment to eventually permit cabotage.

Source: Travel Weekly, find article here>>.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Germany: one more request for preliminary ruling on Reg. 261/2004

The issue raised by German Supreme Court (BGH) once again relates to technical problems as a potential excuse for cancellation of flights. BGH asked European Court of Justice for preliminary ruling on
1) whether technical defects can constitute "extraordinary circumstances" according to the Regulation,
2) in case of affirmation, whether this would include defects affecting the airworthiness of the aircraft or the safe performance of the flight,
3) whether it could be regarded sufficient as having taken all reasonable measures, if the carrier had observed maintenance instrcutions of the aircraft producer as well as safety provisons by the competent authorities or if the defect couldn't have been avoided even when these instructions and provisions had been observed;
4) in case of affirmation, whether this would be sufficient to exempt the carrier from compensation payments or whether the carrier for that purpose in addion would have to prove that cancellation itself couldn't have been avoided by taking all reasonable measures.

The BGH decision is avialable for download in German here>>.

Austria: another water slide case decided by Supreme Court

Once again Austrian Supreme Court (OGH) had to deal with an accident at a water slide: 16 year old plaintiff used defendants' water slide by sliding down in a kneeling position. Due to the elevated barycentre in this position he tilted, fell and hurt his teeth. His claim for compensation for pain and suffering was dismissed by OGH as the water slide was buildt in accordance with European technical standards and pictographs at the entrance showed that it was only allowed to slide down in a sitting or horizontal position. OGH held there was no obligation to explicitly advise of forbidden and dangerous sliding positions.

OGH decision available for download in German here>>.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Maritime and bus/coach passengers' rights

These two proposals based on Art 71 para 1 (transport legislation) respectively in connection with Art 80 para 2 (sea transport legislation) will be subject to the codecision-procedure.

One of the mentioned proposals is available right now:

COM (2008) 0817 final (bus and coach passengers):

the second shall be available tomorrow:
COM (2008) 0816 final (sea and inland waterway passengers)

If you change the forth and fifth to last letter (DE, FR, ES, IT, PT, etc) you may find the documents in all official languages or you search 


Thursday, December 04, 2008

United Nations: use of military force against pirates reauthorized

Days after pirates shot at an Oceania Cruises ship, the United Nations renewed the authorization for countries to use military force against pirates operating in waters off Somalia. The 15-nation council unanimously voted to extend the right of countries’ military forces to seize and dispose of “boats, vessels, arms and other related equipment used or suspected of being used for piracy, which has recently reached a peak off the coast of the Horn of Africa country.” for one year.

Source: Travel Weekly; find article here>>.

Europe: PhoCusWright predicts European online travel bookings to increase by 19 percent in 2008

According to the fourth edition of PhoCusWright's European Online Travel Overview, online sales growth for leisure/unmanaged business travel for 2008, projected at 19 percent, is significantly greater than the 3 percent rate expected for the European travel industry as a whole. Internet bookings of leisure/unmanaged business travel will represent 29 percent of the €246 (US$310) billion European travel industry at the close of 2008.

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

European Commission proposes new rights for bus and maritime passengers

The Commission adopted today two legislative proposals establishing sets of rights for passengers using bus and maritime services on both domestic and international routes. Rights include minimum rules on information for all passengers before and during their journey, assistance and compensation in the event of interruptions of journeys, measures in the event of delays and specific assistance for persons with reduced mobility. Like in the air and rail sectors, proposals foresee independent national bodies for settlement of disputes.

"The EU cannot afford different levels of rights for passengers depending on which mode of transport they travel with. With these two new regulations, we will cover all transport modes. All passengers can make their choice of preferred mode of transport knowing that their rights are equally enforced irrespective of the means", said Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for transport.

Rights of persons with reduced mobility

Disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility are often prevented from travelling by bus and ship due to lack of accessibility of these services and the inexistence of necessary assistance for their needs.

The proposals address these problems by forbidding any discrimination on grounds of disability or reduced mobility with regard to booking a journey or boarding a vehicle or ship. Assistance is provided free of charge on condition that the passenger has notified a need for it in advance and arrives at the terminal or port at a predetermined time prior to the scheduled departure. Personnel of companies and staff of bus terminals or ports should have appropriate knowledge with regard to provision of assistance to disabled persons.

Compensation and assistance to passengers when their journey is interrupted

The proposals foresee that in case of interrupted or cancelled journeys, companies are obliged to provide passengers with adequate information, proper assistance and reasonable alternative services.

Companies failing to meet these requirements ought to pay a compensation calculated on the basis of the ticket price.

Liability for death and injury of passengers

The proposals set out the rules on companies' liability for passengers and their luggage. Passengers will be entitled to uniform compensation levels and will benefit from harmonised rules on liability.

Moreover, under certain conditions companies may not contest damages up to a certain amount in case of an accident. Passengers suffering an accident are entitled to advance payments in order to address economic difficulties that they or their families may face as a consequence of death or injury.

Treatment of complaints and means of redress

The opening of the market has not raised quality standards and services as it was expected, including better enforcement of passenger rights, user-friendly means of settling disputes and means of redress to be used by all companies.

The lack of common procedures isolates passengers, having to cope with different procedures and deadlines.

EU countries will have to set up enforcement bodies responsible for ensuring the implementation of these regulations on their territory. If a bus or ship passenger considers that any of these rights have not been respected, he can bring the matter to the attention of the company. If he is not satisfied with the response, a complaint can be made to the national enforcement body designated by the country concerned.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"European Commission steps up pressure on airlines to ensure websites selling tickets fully comply with EU law"

According to the EU Press Room, "On the eve of a meeting of 27 national enforcement agencies and stakeholder groups in Brussels, Vice President Tajani, EU Transport Commissioner and EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva have stepped up pressure on airline companies selling tickets on the web to meet their legal obligation to fully comply with all the requirements of EU law. In a joint letter to the airline representatives, the two Commissioners have set out a 30 point checklist of consumer rights which all web pages selling air tickets must respect. Following industry feedback, the checklist will be consolidated. The Commission's letter requests that members of the airline associations amend all websites to ensure they fully comply with all the listed obligations. A user friendly version of the checklist should also be made available on websites for consumers. The letter informs the airline representatives that the Commission intends to make public the results of 'health check' of the sector- an independent study which will identify compliant and non-compliant operators - in May 2009. The work with industry is taking place in parallel with additional efforts by the Commission to increase enforcement controls at national level. Commission Kuneva addressed Ministers at the Competition Council on 1st December 2008 calling on them to concentrate all the necessary additional efforts and resources on the airline investigation to enable a final wrap up in May 2009. The letter from Vice President Tajani and Commissioner Kuneva makes it clear that if national authorities persistently fail to act on violations of the law, the Commission would need to consider infringement procedures."

This release is available in full text.

EU-Ombudsman: air passenger rights (Air France)

The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has opened an investigation into whether the European Commission is fulfilling its responsibility to ensure that EU rules on air passenger rights are properly applied in the Member States. This follows a complaint from a German traveller, whose Air France flight was cancelled. He claimed that he received no assistance or compensation from Air France and that the responsible French supervisory body also failed to help him.
The complainant turned to the Commission but was not satisfied with its response. In his complaint to the Ombudsman, the German citizen alleges that the Commission is failing to ensure that EU Member States are properly applying the rules on compensation and assistance to passengers, in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights.

In autumn 2007, the German traveller wanted to return from Madagascar to Germany, via Paris. However, the connecting Air France flight was cancelled because of a strike and he had to organise his own trip back. According to the complainant, he did not receive any assistance from Air France and his requests for compensation were rejected by the airline.
The complainant then forwarded his case to the responsible supervisory body in France, the French Directorate-General for Civil Aviation (DGAC). When he did not get any replies from the DGAC, he turned to the Commission for help. The Commission replied that it would only intervene if there was enough evidence of systemic problems with the implementation of rules on air passenger rights in a Member State. It invited the complainant to keep the Commission informed about his case.
After two further e-mails to the Commission remained unanswered, the complainant turned to the Ombudsman. In his complaint, he alleged that the Commission failed to deal properly with his complaint and that it is failing to ensure that the Member States give effect to air passenger rights. The Ombudsman has asked the Commission to provide its opinion by 28 February 2009.
The European Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration in the EU institutions and bodies. Any EU citizen, resident, or an enterprise or association in a Member State, can lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman offers a fast, flexible and free means of solving problems with the EU administration. For more information:


European Court of Justice: Preliminary Ruling instituted on Warsaw Convention

In a case of a plaintiff claiming damages for being injured when falling on the runway at Luxembourg Airport as she was about to enter the aircraft, on Sep. 1, 2008, a Luxembourg court has referred the following questions to the European Court of Justice:

1. Does the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air, Signed at Warsaw on 12 October 1929, as amended at The Hague on 28 September 1955, to which Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 refers, form part of the rules of the Community legal order which the Court of Justice has jurisdiction to interpret under Article 234 EC?
2. Must Council Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 of 9 October 1997 on air carrier liability in the event of accidents, in the version applicable at the time of the accident, namely 21 December 1998, be interpreted as meaning that, with regard to issues for which no express provision is made, the provisions of the Warsaw Convention, in this case Article 29, continue to apply to a flight between Member States of the Community?
3. If the answer to the first and second questions is in the affirmative, is Article 29 of the Warsaw Convention, in conjunction with Regulation (EC) No 2027/97, to be interpreted as meaning that the period of two years laid down in that article can be suspended or interrupted or that the carrier or its insurer can waive that time-limit, by an act deemed by the national court to constitute recognition of liability?

Case C301/08 - Irene Bogiatzi v Deutscher Luftpool

Monday, December 01, 2008

Caribbean: Hurricane Season Summary

The 2008 season produced 16 named storms, ranking it as one of the more active seasons in the 64 years since comprehensive storm records began. The 2008 season ranks second in destructiveness, causing up to $54 billion in damage, and is the only season to feature a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) every month from July through November.

Source: Travel Weekly; find article here>>. (free registration required)

Details on this year's as well as previous hurricane seasons are available here>>.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Germany: consumer liable for false click in online booking

Plaintiff wanted to do an online booking of 4 tickets for a flight from Stuttgart (Germany) to San Jose (California). By mistake he clicked San Jose (Costa Rica) as destination of his flight. As the booking confirmation he received just showed "San Jose" without specifying a country, he only realized his mistake when checking in at Stuttgart airport. To get to San Jose (California) he had to purchase another 4 tickets at EUR 9.037. Back home he sued the operator of the online booking portal for compensation. The Court (Landesgericht Müchnen I) dismissed the claim: there was no obligation to advise the consumer of the existence of similar named destinations in different countries. Who takes the advantages of online booking also had to take the risk of a false click.

As no appeal was filed, the decision (LG München I 17.06.2008, 34 O 1300/08) became final.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

UK: government to raise air passenger tax

According to a pre-budget report by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), U.K.'s air passenger duty for coach travelers flying from the United States will increase from 40 to 45 British pounds (from about $60 to $68) late next year. HMRC proposes even larger increases for the following year -- a 60-pound charge for transatlantic coach travelers and 120 for passengers in premium classes.

The Air Transport Association (ATA), a trade organization representing US airlines, and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) critizise the tax increases and are concerned about a negative effect on demand.

Source: Travel Weekly; find article here>>.

The pre-budget report on air passenger duty is availabale for download in pdf here>>.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Austrian Supreme Court: Republic liable for unjustified dismissal of airline employee

Plaintiff, an Egypt born Austrian citizen, was employed at an airline's catering division. His field of work included the preparation of snacks for the airline's passengers which he did for more than two years without any complaint when suddenly the Austrian Federal Minsitry for Transport, Innovation and Technology called the airport operating company and requested them to deprive plaintiff of his airport identity card: due to information by the national counter-terrorist department he would have to be regarded a servere security risk. As he was not allowed to enter the catering area any more without the identity card, the arline released him.

He sued the Austrian Republic for damages and succeeded in all three instances as the Ministry failed to produce any evidence of his alledged rsikiness. They only referred to an obligation of secrecy in this regard and didn't grant plaintiff access to their records. Austrian Supreme Court (OGH) upheld the lower instances' decision that the Republic was under obligation of proof which they failed to fulfill. The Republic was therefore held liable for all damages resulting from the unjustified dismissal.

The Supreme Court decision (1 Ob 225/07f of 30.09.2008) is available for download in German here>>.

The case is an example the sometimes absurd excrescences of the "war against terror" after 9/11.

Monday, November 24, 2008

European Union: Airline Blacklist updated

On Nov. 14th the European Commission updated the list of airlines banned within the EU for safety reasons. New on the list is Cambodian Siam Reap Airlines International. The ban of TAAG Angola Airlines has been extended to all Angolan airlines.

The updated list is available for download here>>.

Friday, November 21, 2008

UNWTO Future Vision: Tourism Towards 2030

UNWTO launches its new long-term research programme UNWTO Future Vision: Tourism Towards 2030. The study will forecast international tourism growth through the year 2030 and identify key actual and future trends and their impact on tourism development. It will combine industry data with the views of UNWTO members, tourism practitioners, trends experts and academics around the world. This initiative will update the previous Tourism 2020 Vision, which has become the definitive global reference on the future of tourism.

Source: UNWTO press release; read full text here>>.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

USA: Federal Aviation Adminstration demands safety checks on Boeing 737s

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an emergency safety mandate to check fuel pumps on more than 560 Boeing Co 737 airliners flown by U.S. airlines. Faulty fuel pumps could result in fire or explosions. As aircrafts are not expected to be grounded for the checks, flights should not be disrupted.

Source: Reuters; find article here>>.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kenya: hapless implementation of Civila Aviation Regulation

Three months after the new Kenya Civil Aviation Regulations (KCAR) were enacted despite objections from stakeholders, the first problems appear in their implementation. As stakeholders had feared, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) staff are overstrained enforcing overly detailed and disorganized regulations.

Formerly routine paperwork has changed to in depth scrutiny as overburdened inspectors and employees turn into sticklers for red tape, trying to adhere to performance contracts and avoid mistakes.

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

Kenya Civila Aviation Regulations (KCAR) availabe for download in pdf here>>.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

USA: Department of Homeland Security advises against unauthorized Visa Waiver websites

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned that unauthorized third parties have established websites seeking to charge Visa Waiver Program travelers for electronic travel authorization. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables eligible citizens or nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) becomes a mandatory program on Jan. 12. The system purports to verify whether travelers from VWP nations pose a law enforcement or security risk. Travelers fill out applications for free at ESTA's website.

Use of a private service to apply for travel authorization via ESTA will not expedite the granting of approval, said the DHS. Some of the scam websites charge fees for application.

Source: Travel Weekly; find article here>>.

Friday, November 14, 2008

USA: little help for stranded airline passengers

Airline passengers looking for protection against being stranded for hours on tarmacs cannot count on much help from a federal task force that's been trying to resolve the problem for nearly a year.

The "tarmac task force" was expected to vote Wednesday on guidelines for airlines and airports on how to craft their own contingency plans for dealing with lengthy delays. But the task force wasn't even able agree on what constitutes a "lengthy delay" — one hour, two hours or 10 hours.

The task force recommends leaving it up to airlines and airports whether they follow the guidelines or ignore them.

Source: Associated Press; find article here>>.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

European Union: new Regulation on operation of air services now avialble online

The new "Regulation on common rules for the operation of air services in the community" (EC 1008/2008) which came into force on Nov. 1 and (inter alia) provides for an obligatory "all inclusive" price in airline advertising (see posting of Nov. 2) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on Oct. 30 and is available online here>>.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

IATA: air travel declining at alarming pace

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) the global aviation industry is facing its largest drop in passengers since the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. Even the good news that the oil price has fallen to half its July peak was not enough to offset the impact of the drop in demand.

Global international traffic statistics for September 2008 show passenger traffic declined 2.9 percent while cargo traffic dropped 7.7 percent compared to the same month in 2007.

IATA favors less regulation of international air traffic as the most important factor in staving off further financial calamity in the industry.

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Caribbean: beaches shrink as thieves steal sand

Caribbean round grains, favored in creating smooth surfaces for plastering and finishing, are being hauled away by the truckload late at night. On some islands, towns and ecologically sensitive areas get exposed to tidal surges and rough seas.

Among the hardest hit is Grenada, where officials are building a $1.2 million seawall to protect the 131-square-mile island. Large-scale sand thefts have exposed north-coast towns to rough seas.

About 706,000 cubic feet of sand were taken from private property beaches in the northwest of Jamaica in late July.

Source: The Boston Globe; find article here>>.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

European Union: a new framework for air services

A new Regulation, which was adopted by co-decision procedure, lays down common rules for the operation of air transport services in the Community (recast) (Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council No 1008/08 of 24 September 2008, OJ L 239, 31 October 2008) and is a substantial improvement on the present legislation.

The new regulation provides for non-discriminatory and transparent pricing of air services.

  • It bans price discrimination on the basis of the place of residence or the nationality of the customer or the place of establishment of the travel agent. In practical terms, this means that for the same product – i.e. the same seat on the same flight booked at the same moment – there should be no price differences based on the place of residence or the nationality of the passenger. In the past, such differences have often been observed on airlines’ websites where residents of one Member State had to book on the country-specific website of the airline and where prices could be different (the place of residence of the passenger was established via the consumer’s credit card number).
  • Price transparency is improved by clarifying that the final price to be understood all applicable fares, charges, taxes and fees included. It avoids that airlines mislead consumers by advertising prices exclusive of taxes, charges and fees that are only added at the moment of booking. The breakdown between air fare or rate, the taxes, the airport charges and the other charges, surcharges or fees shall also be specified. Optional price supplements shall be communicated in a clear, transparent and unambiguous way at the start of any booking process and their acceptance by the customer shall be on an "opt-in" basis.
The new regulation came into force Nov. 1, 2008.

Source: EU rapid press release; find more information here>>.

Iran hosting International Tour Operator Convention Nov. 24-27, 2008

The Convention is being organized by Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and tourism Organization (ICHTO) in close cooperation with Iranian Tour Operators Association (ITOA) which is the main private sector association in Iran inbound tourism.

ITOC , which will devote two full days (November 24 and 27) ,the first day presentation on Iran Tourism and Iranian Tour Operators and the last day considered for a workshop with the members of ITOA.

Source: ITOA; find information here>>.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

European Court of Justice: no Telephone Numbers necessary in e-Commerce

Article 5 of the E-Commerce Directive 2000/31/EC provides that the service provider shall render easily, directly and permanently accessible to the recipients of the service and competent authorities his details, including his electronic mail address, which allow him to be contacted rapidly and communicated with in a direct and effective manner.

In a decision of Oct. 26, 2008 ECJ ruled that Art. 5 must be interpreted as meaning that a service provider is required to supply to recipients of the service, before the conclusion of a contract with them, in addition to its electronic mail address, other information which allows the service provider to be contacted rapidly and communicated with in a direct and effective manner. But that information does not necessarily have to be a telephone number. The information may also be in the form of an electronic enquiry template through which the recipients of the service can contact the service provider via the internet, to whom the service provider replies by electronic mail except in situations where a recipient of the service, who, after contacting the service provider electronically, finds himself without access to the electronic network, requests the latter to provide access to another, non-electronic, means of communication.

Given the increasing number of online bookings of travel and tourism services, this decision is of significant importance for the European stakeholders in tourism.

Find full text of the decision here>>.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Europe: Thousands of passengers stranded after financial crash of Sterling Airways

Icelandic-owned Sterling Airways has cancelled all flights, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded at London Gatwick and thousands stranded across Europe. The airline which flies from Gatwick to Copenhagen, Stockholm and other Scandinavian cities, blamed the Icelandic financial crisis for its bankruptcy.

In the information issued to passengers, the airline told customers who have directly purchased their tickets on Sterling’s website that they will not be refunded neither will their return flights. They are advised to book their return flights with another airline company.

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

European Union: new proposals for the application of VAT to travel

Though travel and tourism is the largest sector of the EU economy, Europe’s share of global tourism is declining. EU VAT rules make it more costly for EU-based, tour operators to promote Europe as a destination. Furthermore current VAT legislation it is not applied evenly across the EU.

At the annual conference of the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), therefore new proposals will be presented to reform the application of VAT to travel. ETOA’s Global European Marketplace (GEM) is the most important gathering of the European inbound tourism industry. It takes place on Thursday, November 6 at the Copthorne Tara hotel in Kensington, immediately before World Travel Market in London.

Source: ForImmediateRelease.Net; find article here>>.

USA: Transportation Security Admistration likely to lift restrictions on liquids

Due to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airline passengers will likely be able to carry large bottles of liquids on airplanes some time next year. However, passengers would still have to remove liquids from carry-on bags at airport checkpoints and put them through X-ray machines separately.

By the end of 2010, passengers should be able to keep liquids as they go through checkpoints. Similar restrictions are also likely to be eased in airports of other countries.

Source: USA today; find article here>>.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

USA: Visa Waiver Program to be extended to seven more countries

U.S. President George W. Bush outlined the upcoming expansion of the Visa Waiver Program. By mid-November 2008, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and South Korea will be added to the program, which allows citizens of the approved countries to travel to the United States for stays up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa.

As part of the program, participating countries agree to share information on their citizens visiting the United States, and everyone must register online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization initiative and be approved before traveling.

Source: NTA; read full article here>>.

Monday, October 27, 2008

European Union: Parliament agrees on common charge system for EU airports

Common principles for levying charges at Community airports are set out in a second-reading report adopted by the European Parliament on a directive to prevent individual airports abusing a dominant position on the market.

The European Parliament also saw to it that any differentiation in airports' charges will have to be based on transparent and objective criteria. The Council Common Position, published on 23 June, also makes it clear that there should be a national independent supervisory body, rather than merely regional ones, which is also in line with Parliament's position.

According to the newest 2007 figures, 69 airports will come under the scope of the Directive (with more than 5 million passengers or being the biggest airport in a Member State). By the entry into force of the Directive in 2010, it is estimated by ACI, the Airport Council International, that 77 airports will be concerned.

Source: European Parliament press release; find full text here>>.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

USA: American Airline sues Yahoo over Keyword Advertising

On Oct. 17, American Airlines filed a law suit against Yahoo in U.S. District Court Fort Worth alleging trademark infringement related to Yahoo's paid Sponsor Results.

American Airlines seeks an order to temporarily and permanently bar Yahoo from selling the airline's trademarks, continuing to publish ads using keyword terms "identical or confusingly similar" to the airline's trademarks. It furthermore seeks restitution and punitive damages.

Source: Eric Goldman Technology & Marketing Law Blog;
Documents of the case to be found here>>.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Better protection for holiday-makers: Commissioner Kuneva welcomes Parliament's vote on Timeshare"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "Consumers across the EU will benefit from greater holiday protection - when they buy and resell timeshare holidays, or timeshare-like holidays on cruise boats, canal boats, caravans and 'discount holiday clubs' - under new rules endorsed by the European Parliament today. The aim of the new Directive is to further boost consumer confidence in the Timeshare industry (worth over €10.5 billion and responsible for more than 40,000 jobs across the EU) and to eliminate the rogue traders who cause problems for consumers and bring legitimate operators into disrepute. Up to now, EU rules on Timeshare have given consumers basic rights with regard to clear information, the right to withdraw and change their mind, and a ban on deposits. The new Directive which the European Parliament voted in favour of today, aims to tackle loopholes in the current rules. Most importantly, it will extend the scope of the 1994 EU Timeshare Directive to cover new products which have emerged on the market – like discount holiday clubs, and 'timeshare-like' holidays on cruise boats, canal boats and caravans. It will also extend protection to important areas like timeshare resale and exchange clubs. The new rules should ensure that consumers are equally well protected across the EU and will create a level playing field in the market for timeshare and certain other holiday-related products.
Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said: 'I warmly welcome Parliament's support for this Directive, which will allow consumers real peace of mind when they sign up for their dream holiday deal. The new rules will ensure that the best possible protection is in place for consumers in the modern holiday market, and that rogue traders will no longer be able to exploit loopholes in the law'."

This release is available in full text.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Canada: passenger sues airline over hot drink

An Edmonton woman has launched an $85,000 lawsuit against Air Canada, alleging her vacation abroad was ruined when she was scalded as a result of an airline attendant spilling a hot beverage on her. She also alleges the Air Canada staff failed to treat her burn in accordance with reasonable first aid. She claims to have experienced mental distress that diminished her enjoyment of the vacation.

Source:; find article here>>.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

USA: New York area airports worst for late departures

A Travel Weekly analysis of airport departure times throughout the summer confirms that Airplanes taking off from New York-area airports (JFK, La Guardia, Newark) are more likely to leave late than planes departing other major regions, and that by a significant margin.
One trend common to all airports was a reasonably high on-time departure rate for early morning flights. The on-time rate then began to dip lower throughout the day, bottoming out in the late-afternoon rush hour. But deterioration in departure reliability at New York-area airports started sooner in the daily cycle, plunged deeper and lasted longer than other airports.
Due to the Port Authority, New York airports handled more than 104 million passengers last year. Since 75% of the US flight delays originate in the New York metropolitan area, the Port Authority concluded that their three airports accounted for a third of the nation's air travel delays.

Source: Travel Weekly; find full article here>>.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

German Supreme Court: no refund of the full package price following delayed connection flight

Plaintiff had booked a package tour to Iceland including a flight from Düsseldorf to Reykjavik via Amsterdam. Due to a technical problem the flight from Amsterdam to Reykjavik was delayed. After waiting six hours the plaintiff booked a return flight from Amsterdam to Düsseldorf on his own and returned home the same day. He argued he had legally terminated the contract and sued for repayment of the package price as well as compensation for the costs of his return flight, claiming that under Reg. 261/2004 a delay of more than five hours entitled him to cancellation and a free return flight .
The claim was dismissed in all instances. German Supreme Court (BGH) affirmed its view that Reg. 261/2004 is exclusively granting claims against the operating carrier and does not apply to the organizer of a package tour. Given the complex services under a package tour contract, a flight delay of more than five hours would not entitle the consumer to terminate the contract if the dealy had only resulted into missing one or two out of 14 days of the package tour.

Source: BGH press release 187/2008; full German text available here>>.

Germany: one more reference for preliminary ruling in regard to Reg. 261/2004

German Supreme Court (BGH) once again instituted proceedings on the interpretation of Reg. 261/2004 on air passenger rights. In the case concerend a flight from/to Berlin was part of a package tour to Turkey. During the trip the tour organizer changed the booking for the return flight and rerouted passengers to another flight of the same carrier, not going to Berlin but to Leipzig (from where a bus transfer to Berlin was provided). The originally booked flight to Berlin was duly operated by the carrier.
Passengers sued the operating carrier for compensation because of denied boarding under Reg. 261/2004. First instance court (Amtsgericht Rüsselsheim) granted the claim, court of appeal (LG Darmstadt) dismissed it. Upon further appeal of the passengers, BGH posed the following questions to the ECJ:
  • Can a rebooking to another flight be regarded "denied boarding" under Art. 4 par. 3 of the Reulation,
  • if answered yes, shall this also apply if the rebooking solely was based on a decision of a tour organizer, not one of the carrier.
Source: BGH press release 168/08; German text available here>>.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Proposal for a EC-Directive on Consumer Rights

Last week the European Commission presented a Proposal for a Directive on Consumer Rights COM (2008) 614/3 which shall merge 4 existing EU consumer directives into one set of rules.
For the first time it intends to move away from the minimum harmonisation approach in the former Directives (cf recital no 2).
According to Art 3 No 3, Art 30 to 39 concerning unfair contract terms, read in conjunction with Art 4 on full harmonisation, shall also apply to contracts which fall within the scope of the PTD 90/314/EEC.

The proposal can be found here:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

UNWTO: World Tourism Day 2008 Think Tank

The main conclusion of this year’s World Tourism Day (WTD) Think Tank held on the theme ”Tourism Responding to the Challenge of Climate Change” was that tourism growth must be pursued with increasing emphasis on ethics, local community involvement as well as reducing carbon emissions systematically.
A group of leading public and private tourism stakeholders, representatives of civil society and of the UN system highlighted the inter-relationship between climate response and global poverty reduction efforts. Simultaneous efforts on both fronts are key to effectively meet and promote sustainability goals by the tourism sector.

Participants of the Think Tank welcomed two new initiatives:
  • Built with support of Microsoft, this portal will be a global repository of good practice for all tourism stakeholders to replicate.
  • Tourpact.GC: The first sectoral initiative of UN’s Global compact. It links the Corporate Responsibility Principles and Processes of the Compact with UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. The UN Secretary-General has welcomed it as an initiative to be followed by other sectors.
Source: UNWTO press release; read full text here>>.

International space Station awaiting tourist

The orbital path of the International Space Station (ISS) was successfully adjusted Saturday to accommodate the landing of the world's sixth space tourist in eight days time, Interfax reported citing Russian space programme officials.

Multi-millionaire US businessman Garriott is the son of US astronaut Owen Garriott. He paid more than 30 million dollars (20 million euros) to be launched into space from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, according to Space Adventures, the US-based company that organised his trip.

Source: eTurboNews; read full article here>>.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Florida: law on Cuba travel bond blocked by federal judge

A group of travel agents in Florida sued the state over a new law requiring agents who book trips to Cuba to post a USD 250,000 bond and disclose their clients' names. Earlier this month, a federal judge lifted the measure temporarily to consider the law's legality.
Before the measure was signed into law in June all travel agencies were required to pay the state a one-time USD 25,000 bond.
Despite the recent ruling, the legal battle between the travel agents and Florida lawmakers is not over: Some legal experts say the law oversteps the bounds of state authority.

Source: New York Times; find article here>>.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Antarctica: threatened by tourism?

Tourism in Antarctica has grown dramatically. In 1985, just a few thousand people visited the area but in the season 2007/2008 more than 40,000 did the same. Increasing tourism on Antarctica can result into a threat for the vulnerable South Pole area.

Antarctica is not a sovereign state and so legislation is difficult. With strict guidelines and codes of conduct, the umbrella organisation of Antarctic tour operators, IAATO, has been able to dispel many of the concerns. However, this self-regulation is no absolute guarantee for a healthy tourism industry on Antarctica.

Research from Maastricht University provides a possible solution: marketable visitor rights, as already used in the climate policy by means of trading in CO2 emission rights..

Source: Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. "Tourism on Antarctica Threatening South Pole Environment; Solution Offered." ScienceDaily.

Friday, September 26, 2008

European Court of Justice: hearing on Reg. 261/2004

On Sep. 24, 2008 European Court of Justice held a hearing in connected cases C- 402/07 (Sturgeon v. Condor) and C-432/07 (Böck v. Air France) regarding differentiation between delay and cancellation on the one hand and acknowledgement of technical problems as extraordinary circumstances on the other. Apart from plaintiffs' counsels only the counsels of Condor (defendant in case C-402/07) and representatives of the Commission, Greece and the United Kingdom attended the hearing.

Advocate General Sharpston showed specific interest in the importance of the flight number for the purpose of distinguishing a mere delay from cancellation. The most pointed remark came from UK's representative who argued for a very restrictve interpretation of the term "cancellation" covering only cases when no flight at all was operated. This resulted into a robust discussion with the Advocate General who laid strong emphasis on the principle of equal treatment of comparable situations: from the passenger's view it wouldn't make much difference whether he reached his destination one day later because of a delay or because of a cancellation. Ms Sharpston stressed that the fundamental principle of equal treatment was binding for the European secondary legislator.

Ms Sharpston announced that she will give her opinion at a later stage of the proceedings.

European Court of First Instance: no damages granted after annulment of the Commission’s decision to interdict acquistion of First Choice by MyTravel

On 29 April 1999, the United Kingdom travel company Airtours (now renamed into MyTravel Group) announced its intention to acquire the whole of the issued share capital of First Choice, one of its competitors in the United Kingdom, on the stock market. The Commission declared the merger incompatible with the common market on the ground that it would have led to a collective dominant position on the United Kingdom short-haul foreign package holiday market.
Airtours brought proceedings before the Court of First Instance which by judgment of 6 June 2002 annulled the decision, holding that the Commission had not shown to the requisite degree that negative effects on competition would arise by virtue of the merger.

Following that judgment, MyTravel Group brought an action before the Court of First Instance claiming damages for the loss it claimed to have suffered by reason of the unlawfulness vitiating the review procedure undertaken by the Commission of the compatibility of the proposed acquisition of the applicant’s competitor with the common market.

The Court of First Instance held, that for the non-contractual liability of the Community to arise there must be unlawful conduct by its institutions amounting to a manifest and grave disregard for the limits on their discretion. the complexity of the situations to be regulated in the control of mergers, the difficulties of application connected with the time constraints imposed on the administration in that regard and the margin of discretion available to the Commission must be taken into account in analysing whether a sufficiently serious breach on the Commission’s part may have arisen.

Having regard to those considerations, the Court of First Instance rules that the Commission did not commit a sufficiently serious infringement of a rule of law in analysing the Airtours/First Choice merger in light of the criteria relating to the creation of a collective dominant position.

Source: Court of First Instance press release>>.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Relaunch of Aviation industry climate change website

The site,, is an initiative of the commercial aviation industry and highlights the technology solutions, operational improvements and infrastructure efficiencies that are being researched and implemented across the world. It aims to answer the questions being raised by environmental groups and members of the public about aviation's impact on the environment and in particular climate change.

The new-look website has been established to provide members of the flying public and those working in the industry with the science and facts on aviation and its climate change impact, while also detailing the huge amount of work being undertaken across the industry.

Source: ForImmediateRelease.Net; full article here>>.

UNTWO welcomes Norway as 154th member state

In 1947, Norway was one of the 19 founding members of the International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO), the organization which preceded the modern UNWTO. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway officially submitted its application for full membership of UNWTO on 8 September 2008. In accordance with the UNWTO Statutes this membership enters into immediate effect.

The Membership in UNWTO is part of Norway’s national strategy for the tourism industry, which highlights the importance of the further development of the sector as a vehicle for economic growth, in addition to traditional industries such as fishing, agriculture or oil.

Source: UNTWO press release>>.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

USA: flight delays caused by computer breakdown

Problems with the Federal Aviation Adminstration (FAA)'s traffic management computer system at Georgia facility caused flight delays at U.S. airports on Tuesday.

An FAA Web site tracking airport status showed delays at about three dozen major airports across the country, largely centered in the northeastern U.S. The site advised passengers to "check your departure airport to see if your flight may be affected."

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"II International Tourism Law Conference": Cancun (Mexico), 30 - 31 October

Is already available the Page of the "II International Tourism Law Conference", that will take place at Cancun, Mexico, next October, from 30 to 31.

This event is organized by the IIJ-UNAM - the Institute of Legal Researches of the National Authonomous University of Mexico, the University of Quintana Roo and the University of the Caribbean, being sponsored by IFTTA - the International Forum of Travel and Tourism Advocates and IBCDTur - the Brazil Institute of Tourism Sciences and Law. The Organization is Coordinated by Enrique Mota Flores.

With this event, will take place the First IFTTA North-American Conference of Tourism and Travel Law, with the presence of 3 Members of the Board of IFTTA: Phil Cameron and Laurence Gore, from the United States, and Manuel David Masseno, from Portugal. The Program includes papers to be presented by other IFTTA Members as Rui Badaró, from Brazil, and Enrique Mota Flores, from Mexico.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Aviation security rules: European Commission to increase transparency"

The majority of rules relating to aviation security will be made available to the public, the European Commission has decided today. The publication of the EU list of prohibited articles will make it easier for passengers to know what they can – and cannot – take on board an aircraft, while it increases transparency of EU rules in this domain. This decision will not change the existing legislation relating to aviation security. Rather, the primary aim is to place a significant proportion of the rules – which have until now not been officially published – into the public domain, whilst not compromising aviation security.
Information on articles that are currently prohibited from being carried by passengers in their cabin baggage or hold baggage was until now only available through airlines or airports. Due to opinion of Advocate General Sharpston in Case C-345/06 (Heinrich) the Commission was forced to find a quick solution for passengers.
The existing Commission Regulation No 622/2003/EC laying down measures for the implementation of the common basic standards on aviation security and its subsequent amendments are repealed and replaced by two legislative acts, a Commission Regulation and a Commission Decision. All those elements of the existing rules that can be placed in the public domain without adversely prejudicing aviation security are in the Regulation, whereas the Decision contains those elements which are deemed sensitive to place in the public domain. An example of what will be contained in the Decision (and thus not made public) is the minimum performance standards of security screening equipment used at airports.
Besides, the adoption of the Regulation and Decision addresses the wishes that were expressed on several occasions by the European Parliament.
The Regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union (and thus available via the official website ). In addition, it will be placed on the European Commission's Transport website:
The Decision is addressed to the Member States, who will be responsible of making available the elements contained in the Decision to duly authorised persons on a 'need-to-know' basis. This respects Regulation No 2320/2002/EC establishing common rules in the field of civil aviation security which requires in Article 8 both that certain measures "shall be kept secret and not published" and that the national authorities shall make available the rules on aviation security to parties on a need-to-know basis.

Source: and

Stephan Keiler

Friday, August 08, 2008

Caribbean: heavy hurricane season to be expected

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA) revised its predictions for the 2008 hurricane season. In the August update to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has increased the likelihood of an above-normal hurricane season and has raised the total number of named storms and hurricanes that may form. NOAA now projects an 85 percent probability of an above-normal season. The season could produce 14 to 18 named storms, including 7 to 10 hurricanes with three to six being intense (Category 3 strength or higher).

See details here>>.

USA: American Airline goes to court against displaying its fares in the net

As reported by The Dallas Morning News, American Airlines is suing the parent of meta-search Websites and Sidestep .com, for violating an agreement on the use of the airline's airfare content by displaying the airline's fares available through third parties. Kayak issued a statement saying that it terminated its agreement with American.

Find article here>>.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

British Airways: Eurpoean top in lost luggage and flight delays?

The Times reports that due to a confidential study, British Airways loses more bags and operates more delayed planes than any other big airline in Europe. Allegedly nine passengers on every British Airways jumbo lose their bags. Last year BA lost 26.5 bags per 1,000 passengers, compared with 23 in 2006. In the first six months of 2008, 25.8 bags were mislaid per 1,000 travellers. According to the report, BA cannot lay the entire blame for its mislaid bags and delays on Terminal 5.

Find the article here>>.

Monday, August 04, 2008

USA: airline sues pilots and union over campaign

The lawsuit, filed by United Airlines in Chicago last Wednesday, seeks a preliminary injunction against the Air Line Pilots Association and four pilots claiming they had organized an effort to encourage pilots to call in sick. The airline accuses the union of conducting a "public campaign of intimidation" meant to discourage pilots from filling in for the pilots who used their sick time, "effectively engaging in a slowdown." United Airline claims such slowdowns had led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

Source: Intl. Herald Tribune; find article here>>.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Malaysia: travel agents fight misleading airline advertising

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has scathed "zero fares" offered by the country's two warring carriers as misleading and demand the advertisements should be banned. The "zero fares" offered are not only for limited seats, but do not include airport taxes, fuel surcharges and other "applicable" fees and taxes.
According to industry observers, the offers were a result of a price war between the country's two fiercely competing carriers, upstart AirAsia and national carrier Malaysia Airlines.

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Florida: agents challenge law on Cuba travel

A group of travel agents in Florida sued the state over a new law requiring agents who book trips to Cuba to post a USD 250,000 bond and disclose their clients' names. Earlier this month, a federal judge lifted the measure temporarily to consider the law's legality.

Before the measure was signed into law in June all travel agencies were required to pay the state a one-time USD 25,000 bond.

Despite the recent ruling, the legal battle between the travel agents and Florida lawmakers is not over: Some legal experts say the law oversteps the bounds of state authority.

Source: New York Times; find article here>>.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

China: restrictions for business travelers

Government officials confirmed Thursday that visas for business people will be tougher to get during the Olympic period. Authorities have repeatedly said the security measures are needed because the games are a target for terrorism.

Now, Beijing and other Olympic cities such as Shanghai have stopped issuing official invitation letters, known as notification letters, needed for business visas until late September, unless it involves employment or executing business contracts, an official with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce said.

"We don't take in applications related to any other general business matters, such as attending conferences, visiting factories and business negotiations. Such applications will not be handled until after Sept. 20," Chen Yu said.

Source: International Herald Tribune; full article here>>.

"Blacklist of banned airlines: European Commission adopts an updated list"

As just stated by the EU Press Room, "The European Commission today adopted the eighth update of the so-called blacklist of airlines that are banned from flying into the countries of the European Union due to safety concerns. The new list, which replaces the previous one, can already be consulted on the Commission’s website []
Antonio Tajani, Commission Vice-President in charge of transport said that 'This is another important step in the continuous Commission's effort to enhance civil aviation safety, in the interest of all passengers. The Commission will pursue its cooperation and support to States, their civil aviation authorities and their airlines to ensure that the internationally agreed air safety standards are properly implemented.'."

This release is available in full text.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"The European Commission adopts its fourth report on visa waiver non-reciprocity with third countries"

According to the EU Press Room,"The European Commission has adopted its fourth report on certain third countries' maintenance of visa requirements in breach of the principle of reciprocity. The report shows that further progress towards full visa reciprocity has been achieved.
Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security underlined the usefulness of the reciprocity mechanism: 'This Report clearly demonstrates that the dialogue with third countries under the new visa-reciprocity mechanism has once again proven effective, resulting in visa free travel for all our citizens to another 3 countries. The Report however also proposes retaliatory measures where insufficient progress has been achieved. It is unacceptable that nationals from some third countries can benefit from visa free travel to the EU whilst some of our fellow EU citizens can't travel visa free to those countries. This is at the heart of our visa reciprocity mechanism and I am committed to ensuring that that principle is fully respected'."

This release is available in full text.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mexico: tax on cruise passengers postponed

Mexico's Ministry of Tourism had planned to apply a $5 head tax on cruise passengers who stop at the country's ports starting this summer but has postponed the implementation until Oct. 1. The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, some Mexican ports and cruise lines are opposed to the tax, which supporters say will generate about $30 million annually.

Source: Travel Weekly; find full article here>>.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Air Hostess Picks Up Chocolate Bar, Wins Space Trip

I thought Willy Wonka only gave away tours of the Chocolate Factory - not space...

Wed Jul 16, 11:02 AM ET

PARIS (Reuters) - A French air hostess will become one of Europe's pioneer space tourists after picking a chocolate wrapper out of the rubbish and finding a winning number in a competition to fly to the upper reaches of the earth's atmosphere.
Mathilde Epron, 32, said she had bought a Kit Kat chocolate bar at her local supermarket but initially threw the wrapper in the bin, telling herself that "it's only others who win."
Two hours later, thinking back to the competition, she decided to try her luck and fished the wrapper out of the bin, only to find a code marked inside.
"For someone who works in air travel it's really a dream come true," she told France Info radio.A spokeswoman for Nestle in France confirmed that Epron had won the prize to take a flight on a four-seater, fighter-sized aircraft built by Rocketplane, a company that builds aircraft intended to provide cheap flights into space.
She will receive four days of astronaut training in Oklahoma City in the United States before boarding the Rocketplane XP aircraft which will reach an altitude of 100 km (60 miles) and allow a five-minute experience of weightlessness.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

South Africa: Tourism Services Association skeptical towards airline passenger protection

According to the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa), a "balanced solution" is needed when it comes to compensating airline passengers denied permission to board a flight because it has been overbooked. There is no legislation in South Africa so far that requires compensation to be paid to a passenger who has been denied permission to board.
Satsa chief executive officer Michael Tatalias fears a Consumer Protection Act providing refund for passengers might end up attracting fewer new foreign airlines. Moreover, if a decision was "skewed" in favour of passengers, ticket prices could increase.

Source:; full article here>>.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Switzerland: "death tourism" unwanted

Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf says she would like to put a stop to the practice of people travelling to Switzerland to die. Swiss law tolerates assisted suicide when the patient commits the act and the helper has no direct interest. Several organisations offer the service, but only one group to foreigners.

The minister would like to introduce a period of reflection between the first contact made with an organisation and an assisted suicide. During this time the person would undergo counselling from the organisation or third party.

Source:; full article here>>.

Airport Laptop Searches and Anti-Counterfeiting

This is an interesting item out of the G8 meetings held this week. The G8 is looking at plans to give airports the power to scan portable media players for copyrighted material when you fly under its upcoming Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This would give custom officials the power to scan MP3 players, laptops and even mobile phones for illegally-obtained copyrighted material when passengers pass through borders. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Measures form part of an international agreement aimed at stamping out piracy. What next? Talk about George Orwell's 1984

Originally published in Association of Retail Travel Agents ARTA E-News For July 11, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Rules For Data On International Passengers Flying to Beijing

BEIJING, July 1 (Xinhua) - Entry and exit inspection authorities here said that a new regulation, whereby international airlines must provide them with Advance Passenger Information (API) before arrival, took effect on Tuesday.
The move would greatly accelerate the inspection process as it would allow the authorities to screen passengers before they land, said an official with the local border management agency.
He said the required information included the passenger's full name, nationality, gender, date of birth, passport validity and expiry date. Once the flight took off for Beijing, the information would be transmitted to Chinese border management agencies through a special network.
Agencies would receive and begin processing the information two hours before the flight landed at Beijing Capital International Airport. Carriers that failed to provide accurate and timely API would be fined up to 30,000 yuan (4,286 U.S. dollars) per case.

Click here for full article.

"Safer Holidays: Commissioner Kuneva welcomes new water safety guidelines"

According to the EU Press Room,"EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva today welcomed the publication of a report entitled 'Protecting children and youth in water recreation: safety guidelines for service providers', which gives basic but crucial advice for reducing water-related accidents, particularly when it comes to children on holidays. The report was drawn up by the European Child Safety Alliance, in cooperation with the Commission and Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, MEP Arlene McCarthy. Every year, there are around 200 000 swimming pool related accidents in the EU, and another 50 000 injuries related to boating and water sports. Drowning is the second highest cause of death in children and young people aged 0 to 18 years, and evidence shows that water accidents are higher amongst tourists than local residents. Most of these accidents and injuries, however, could be easily prevented through basic safety measures. Today's report contains guidelines for water recreation service providers (hotel managers, rental providers, tour operators etc.), so that they can assess and, where necessary, upgrade their water safety standards. The recommendations include: checking the risks linked to the water-related area and activity, particularly for vulnerable users such as children; providing the appropriate equipment, such as floatation devices; communicating the risks and hazards clearly; and having well-trained staff and an emergency plan in place. Specific recommendations are also set out for certain water-sports, including snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, motor-boating and kite-surfing. The complete guidelines can be found at:"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"All-inclusive air fares just around the corner as MEP back legislation on transparency"

As stated by the European Parliament Press Service,"Air travellers will soon be able to see at a glance exactly what they have to pay for their tickets, as the European Parliament approved new EU rules. Air fares as displayed will have to include all taxes, fees and charges added to the basic ticket price and known at the time of publication. Parliament approved a deal on this legislation reached with the Council, as it takes on board the EP's key first-reading amendments."

This release is available in full text.

European Union: Commssion promotes sun protection

As the holiday seasons begins, Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva and Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou have joined forces to help raise awareness of the dangers that excessive exposure to sunlight can cause. Last year, the Commission drew attention to the need for citizens to protect themselves against the dangerous effects of the sun, both against UV-A and UV-B radiation. Citizens should be vigilant and look out for the new sunscreen label "UVA", which stands for equal protection against UV-A and UV-B radiation.

More information here>>.

European Court of Justice: Reg. 261/2004 does not apply to return flights from third country airports into the EU

In Case C-173/07 (Schenkel v Emirates Airlines) ECJ held that Art 3 para 3 lit a of Regulation 261/2004/EC must be interpreted as not applying to the case of an outward and return
journey in which passengers who have originally departed from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the EC Treaty applies travel back to that airport on a flight from an airport located in a non-member country. The fact that the outward and return flights are the subject of a single booking has no effect on the interpretation of that provision.
In ECJ's view to regard a ‘flight’ within the meaning of Article 3(1)(a) of Regulation No 261/2004 as an outward and return journey would have the effect of reducing the protection to be given to passengers under the regulation: passengers departing originally from an airport located in a Member State could claim the benefit of that protection only once if they were to suffer the same damage on the outward and the return legs, Passengers who had originally departed from an airport located in a non-member country would not be able to enjoy the protection provided by Regulation No 261/2004.

Full text of judgement available here>>.

Decision reported to IFTTA by Stephan Keiler.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

France: judge orders US airline to stand trial for Concorde crash

A French judge has ordered Continental Airlines and five individuals to stand trial on charges arising from the crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people in 2000. The defendants include two employees of the U.S. carrier, two employees of Aerospatiale, the company that made the supersonic Concorde, and a French aviation official. All are charged with manslaughter.

The crash in 2000 was a factor in the subsequent decision to remove all Concorde jets from service three years later.

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

"Aviation to be included in the European Trading System from 2012 as MEPs adopt legislation"

As stated by the European Parliament Press Service, "MEPs adopted legislation on including aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), all flights starting and/or landing in Europe (including intercontinental flights) to be included in the ETS from 1 January 2012. The reduction target to be calculated on the basis of airlines' average annual emissions between 2004-2006: in the first period (2012), airline emissions to be cut by 3 percent based on an historic average; emissions will be reduced by 5% in 2013 compared to the historic average."

This release is available in full text.

Monday, June 30, 2008

"Europe and US sign aviation agreement to improve safety and cut costs"

According to the EU Press Room, "As of today, aviation relations between the European Community and the United States will be further strengthened through an agreement on aviation safety. Thanks to the mutual recognition of aviation safety certificates, the agreement will result in better harmonised safety systems on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as less cumbersome technical and administrative procedures for the recognition of certificates. It is expected that this will entail further improvement in safety levels and reduce costs by several millions of euros every year for European and US manufacturers alike. These savings should in turn be reflected in fares for passengers."

This press release is available in full text.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

European Union: Court of First Instance partly annuls Commission's decision on aid paid to Olympiaki Aeroporia Ypiresies

Following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the Commission adopted a Communication on their repercussions on the air transport industry. In that communication, the Commission considered that, having regard to the exceptional nature of the events of 11 September, the State aid provisions could authorise, under certain conditions, compensation for costs caused by the closure of American airspace for four days (from 11 to 14 September 2001) and for the extra cost of insurance.
In 2002, the Greek authorities sent the Commission the detailed calculations of the compensation in favour of Olympiaki Aeroporia Ypiresies. It related to revenue lost in respect of the carriage of passengers and goods, the costs of destruction of sensitive goods, the additional costs of security checks, the costs of recalling an Athens to New York flight on 11 September 2001 and of cancelling the return flight, the costs of the landing and stay at Halifax (from 11 to 15 September 2001) of a flight the original destination of which was Toronto, the costs of extra repatriation flights (‘ferry flights’) on 18, 20 and 26 September 2001 and, finally, the costs connected with the additional hours worked by staff and the costs of additional security. The amount of EUR 4 827 586.21 was paid to Olympiaki in July 2002.
In 2006, at the conclusion of a formal investigation procedure, the Commission decided that the State aid was compatible with the common market as regards the compensation paid for the period from 11 to 14 September 2000 up to a maximum amount of EUR 1 962 680. On the other hand, the Commission considered that the cancellation of the flights of 15 and 16 September 2001 and the ‘ferry flights’ were but indirect repercussions of the terrorist attacks. It also ordered the recovery of any amount of aid paid in excess of EUR 1 962 680.
On the other hand, the Commission considered that the cancellation of the flights of 15 and 16 September 2001 and the ‘ferry flights’ were but indirect repercussions of the terrorist attacks. It also ordered the recovery of any amount of aid paid in excess of EUR 1 962 680.
Olympiaki applied to the Court of First Instance for the annulment of the Commission’s decision in so far as it fixed the maximum amount of compensation compatible with the common market at EUR 1 962 680. It challenged the determination that no loss which arose after 14 September 2001 had a causal connection with the terrorist attacks of 11 September.
The Court of First Instance notes that the existence of a direct connection between the exceptional occurrence and the damage caused does not presuppose that they occurred at the same time.
The Court of First Instance annuls the Commission’s decision in so far as it concerns the compensation for the cancellation, on 15 September 2001, of the flight to Toronto, on the ground that the evidence on which the Community institution relied in order to substantiate the lack of a causal connection did not justify its determination. Further, the Court of First Instance annuls for failure to state reasons, the Commission’s decision in so far as it concerns the losses suffered by Olympiaki, first, on its network apart from the North Atlantic and Israel (about EUR 1 212 000) and, second, lost revenue amounting to about EUR 500 000 in respect of the carriage of goods and other costs incurred.

Source: European Court of First Instance press release>>.