The Air Navigation and Transport Bill proposes to separate for-profit air navigation services into a new commercial state company, IANS. Matters of safety regulation will remain with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and will encompass and merge with the functions of the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), which is to be dissolved. In addition, the Bill updates elements of the regulatory regime used to set passenger charges at Dublin Airport. The current regime has been the subject of adverse comment from stakeholders.
Some areas of interest in the Bill are as follows:
The Bill provides for the formation and administration of the Irish Air Navigation Service (IANS) and its administrative arrangements.
The Bill outlines the IANS charging structure for air navigation, communication and other services and enforcement powers to the IANS to collect charges. The IANS may make regulations in respect of these charges and the regulations can specify that liability for these charges be it aircraft owners or, in the case of leased aircraft, the aircraft operator. As a general observation, the aim of the Bill is to confer the powers and functions previously held by the IAA on the IANS. This includes the power to detain and sell aircraft for unpaid air navigation and aeronautical communication services charges under s.40 Air Navigation and Transport Act 1998.
The Bill contains several amendments to the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993. These are aimed at reforming governance arrangements within IAA including matters like access to information by the Minister, terms of office for CEO and Board, and borrowing limits.
The functions and protocols currently assigned to the CAR are merged seamlessly into the new IAA and will provide that the IAA, with the CAR functions merged, may review and carry out an assessment of the market power held by airport authorities. It aims to place the interests of users and consumers at the top of the hierarchy of objectives in regulating aircraft charges and remove the redundant provisions relating to a legacy role for CAR in regulating te minal charges.
The Bill proposes that the Minister for Transport may request a review of airport authorities which must then be carried out. The process shall involve a review, report, and recommendations on the regulation of airport charges. Furthermore, the Minister for Transport may carry out a review of the regulation of airport charges. It provides a number of conditions and procedures to be met and the report must be submitted to Government, brought before Parliament and make publicly available via the internet.
The Bill provides for the dissolution of the CAR.
The Air Navigation and Transport Bill 2020 provides for significant institutional changes to how aviation is regulated in Ireland. It provides for the separation of the IAA with the safety regulation side of the IAA to be merged with the CAR. This would create a standalone single aviation regulator dealing with operational matters related to licencing, crew, aircraft, and air carriers.
The ‘for-profit’ air navigation side of the IAA will be transferred into the IANS which shall be a separate commercial entity. The Bill was discussed and approved in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament and is currently working its way through the final stages. It was expected that the Bill would be finalised promptly following the Summer 2021 parliamentary recess. This has not yet occurred, and we will continue to monitor the progress of the Bill as it proceeds through the legislative process.
For more information, contact a member of our Aviation & Asset Finance team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.