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Legal Developments in International Civil Aviation

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Congressional rept.

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Much of the law regarding civil aviation has been developed through a combination of domestic laws and international agreements between the United States and other nations. In 1992, the U.S. Department of Transportation DOT introduced the Open Skies initiative and began negotiating civil aviation agreements with foreign countries, as well as with individual members of the European Union EU. As a result of a 2002 European Court of Justice ruling that several parts of the Open Skies Agreements violated EU law, the United States and the EU have been negotiating a new Open Skies Agreement. A tentative agreement seems to exist between the parties that would allow every EU and U.S. airline to fly between every city in the EU and every city in the United States, and would permit U.S. and EU airlines to determine the number of flights, their routes, and fares according to market demand. Despite this development, there appear to be several areas of international civil aviation law that the tentative agreement does not address. Among them are the issues of foreign ownership and control and participation in the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Program. Presently, U.S. law requires that to operate as an air carrier in the United States, an entity must be a U.S. citizen. But recently, the DOT released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking NPRM that would change its interpretation of what constitutes actual control. If adopted, this new interpretation could have major implications for U.S. and international civil aviation. Several issues relating to this NPRM are now being debated, including consistency with operative statutes and the viability of the CRAF, should more extensive foreign ownership be permitted. U.S. law also contains a general restriction on cabotage. This report provides background on U.S. civil aviation agreements, updates the current status of Open Skies negotiations with the EU, and addresses the legal debate concerning foreign control and cabotage laws.

Subject Categories:

  • Commercial and General Aviation
  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law

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