Who Participated in the Foreign Air Carriers Discussion?

Foreign Air Carriers generated a modest amount of discussion.  18 comments were made on this post:

  • 15 comments by 14 users
  • 3 comments by Regulation Room moderators

In addition, discussion about whether foreign air carriers should be held to the same standards as domestic airlines can be found in the summaries of other posts.

Commenters included primarily people who identified themselves as air travelers. One commenter identified him/herself as working for a U.S. air carrier, while another described their interest as unspecified “other.”

From September 13 to September 19, the Draft Summary was available for comment.  One user suggested changes. During this period, the Regulation Room team reviewed the comments on the Foreign Air Carriers issue post again; as a result of this review, some additional detail has been added to this summary.

General Overview

Commenters were almost unanimous that the passenger protection rules DOT Department of Transportation implemented in April, as well as the additional rules it is now considering, should apply equally to at least some foreign airlines making international flights to and from the U.S.  One commenter warns, however, that applying the regulations to foreign carriers could create problems and will not address the root causes of delay.

Reasons for Applying Regulations to Foreign Carriers

The nearly unanimous group of commenters who believe the regulations should apply equally to domestic and foreign carriers operating in the U.S. give several reasons:

  • Fairness as between domestic and foreign carriers: Domestic airlines are at a competitive disadvantage unless the same rules apply to all.
  • Reciprocity: U.S. carriers have to follow European Union regulations when flying to EU countries, as well as the regulations of other foreign countries.  Foreign carriers should likewise have to follow U.S. regulations.
  • Passengers’ interest in universal application:  One commenter notes that foreign carriers profit from transporting U.S. passengers, and therefore should have to follow U.S. rules when flying to and from the U.S.  Others emphasize that U.S.      travelers should be protected whether they choose domestic or foreign carriers.

Concerns about applying regulations to foreign carriers

One commenter sees reasons for caution before applying U.S. regulations to foreign carriers.  Other countries might not perceive U.S. regulations as benign and could retaliate with new restrictions on international flights of U.S. carriers.  He/she warns of the “law of unforeseen consequences.”  This commenter urges DOT Department of Transportation to address the causes of tarmac delay directly rather than imposing significant operational or financial consequences on carriers for something largely outside their control.  The next section summarizes his/her specific suggestions. (For other comments urging DOT Department of Transportation to address the root causes of delay, see the Tarmac Delay Final Summary.)

Another commenter favors anything that protects passengers, but opposes changes that would result in additional fees for passengers.

Suggestions for alternative regulatory approaches

One commenter, who supports applying the regulations to all carriers, suggest that an even better approach would be attempting to get all countries to agree to the same rules through an international governmental body established to oversee airlines.

The commenter (described in the previous section)who urges DOT Department of Transportation to “fix the problem, not the symptoms” attributes tarmac delay to the FAA and airports for allowing over-scheduling and not restricting slots.  He/she urges consideration of the EU model:  Eurocontrol (the FAA’s European equivalent) directs European airports to implement flow-control restrictions whenever an airport (or airspace) cannot provide its expected capacity. When this happens, airlines must reduce their flights in proportion to the total number of slots they ‘own’ at that airport.  In response to a moderator query whether a similar agency should replace the FAA, this commenter said there is no need to reinvent the wheel.  FAA should conduct a review of how slots are determined and allocated.  It should create clear and transparent rules for how delay-creating circumstances should be handled, as well as mechanisms for decisionmaking in specific instances.

For example, he argues, airlines and authorities usually know 24–48 hours before a major snowstorm hits.  A committee of representatives of affected airlines, affected airports, and the FAA should be empowered to discuss the situation and make decisions.  (This commenter notes that these discussions would have to be immunized from liability and the anti-trust laws, for normally airlines that discuss flight schedules or otherwise coordinate flight related activities would be engaging in per se anticompetitive behavior.)  If the committee predicts that airports can only handle 75% of scheduled traffic, then it would create a single, coordinated plan for airlines to implement by rebooking/rerouting customers long before people get to the airport.  The current approach—in which each airline “does its own thing”—is inefficient in preventing delays and ineffective in reducing inconvenience to passengers.

Relevance of plane size in extending regulation

In general, the commenters who addressed DOT’s question whether there should be a size-of aircraft cutoff for applying regulatory requirements to foreign carriers opposed a size cutoff.

One commenter would use the FAA flight regulations that a carrier flies under (e.g. FAA FAR Part 135/136. etc.) rather than focusing on size of aircraft.  He/she suggests that the existing and new rules should only apply to Part 121 and 125 carriers.

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