People's Suggestions

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9/13/2010 11:42

You state one of my suggestions was that: “A committee of representatives of affected airlines, affected airports, and the FAA should be empowered (and immunized from liability) to discuss the situation and make decisions.” The immunity I was suggesting was more in respect of competition laws, than for liability. Normally airlines cannot discuss their schedules or other plans with their competitors (that would be a per-se violation – meaning there is no valid legal excuse for doing so). In these situations airlines should be allowed to do so and to agree on solutions that may appear to be anti-competitive, but on the day may be the best solution.

As an example two airlines ZZ and XX each operate one daily flight between two airports. In an crisis situation they should be able to compare notes and agree that one, or the other, would cancel while the other would operate.

Can I suggest you amend your comment to read: “A committee of representatives of affected airlines, affected airports, and the FAA should be empowered (and immunized from liability and from anti-trust laws) to discuss the situation and make decisions.

    9/13/2010 11:47

    Thank you very much for the clarification. We will be sure to modify the language in the final summary that we send to DOT.

Airline Passenger Rights "Foreign air carriers"

Draft Summary of Discussion
By the Regulation Room team based on what people have said
Agency Documents
1 2


What’s Going on Here?

This is a summary of the discussion on the Foreign Air Carriers post between June 2 and September 10.  (On September 11, the post was closed to further discussion.)  The summary was written by the Regulation Room team based on all the comments people made.  This version is a DRAFT. We need YOUR help to make sure that nothing is missing, wrong or unclear.

Important dates:

Sept. 13 – Sept. 19:  Comments can be made here on the draft
Sept. 20 :  Commenting on the draft summary closed
Sept. 20 – Sept.  22:  Regulation Room team reviews comments and revises draft
Sept. 23:  Final Summary of Discussion is posted on Regulation Room and submitted to DOT Department of Transportation as a formal comment in the official rulemaking record.  (Sept. 23 is the last day of the official commenting period.)

Things to keep in mind as you read through the draft summary and make comments:

  1. The goal here is to give DOT the best possible picture of all the different views, concerns, and ideas that came out during the discussion.  This is NOT the place to reargue your position or criticize a different one.  Focus on whether anything is missing or unclear, not whether you agree or disagree.
  2. Rulemaking is not a vote. DOT is not allowed to decide what to do based on majority rule.  (Why? See Effective Commenting).  Approximate numbers are provided in the summary only to give DOT a sense of the frequency of views, concerns, and ideas.

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2 0 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 15 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 who identified themselves as working for a U.S. air carrier and one who described their interest as “other” also commented.

3 0 General Overview

A near consensus of the 15 commenters is 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.

4 0 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 is important to many.  Domestic airlines are at a competitive disadvantage unless the same rules apply to all.
  • Some also raise the issue of 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.
  • From the perspective of passengers, universal application is important.  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 US travelers should be protected whether they choose domestic or foreign carriers.

5 0 Concerns about applying regulations to foreign carriers

One commenter sees reasons to be cautious in 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 US 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.

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

6 0 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 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 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 (and immunized from liability) to discuss the situation and make decisions.  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.

7 0 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.