A wide range of changes are being considered for the civil
aviation sector and airports under two different reviews currently
Review of the Civil Aviation Act and Airport Authorities
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) may have a
greater role in rule-making, as a result of the review of the Civil
Aviation Act, see
here. The review by the Ministry of Transport is considering
whether to give the CAA the power to make temporary rules, allow
the Minister to delegate some rule-making powers, or give the CAA
power to make standards or some other additional regulations to the
rules. These are all possible alternatives to the current system,
under which all rules are made by the Minister.
The proposals are aimed at addressing concern that rules can
take too long to make, which can impact on safety, increase costs
unnecessarily and result in out of date rules. However, the review
recognises that recent changes have been made to the existing
rule-making process, and that an option is to wait for these
changes to embed, before making further changes. The review
identifies risks in all the change options, particularly from the
uncertainty in defining the relative powers of the Minister and the
CAA in all the new options.
There is an argument for completely devolving rule-making to the
CAA, on the basis that aviation regulation is highly technical and
requires a high level of expertise. The review notes these points,
but says that such a move is outside the scope of the review. It
would be a significant change to move the rule-making power to the
CAA, considerably changing the nature and scope of the review and
requiring significantly more analysis and consultation.
Changes to safety regulation
Other changes to the Civil Aviation Act under consideration
include changes to the structure (including amalgamating it with
the Airport Authorities Act introducing a purpose statement, adding
objectives to guide the Secretary of Transport and amending the
objectives on the Minister and the CAA. Small changes to the
functions of the CAA and the independent functions of the Director
of Civil Aviation and changes to the fit and proper test for
persons to enter the civil aviation system (eg as an operator or a
pilot) are also on the table.
Airline licensing and competition
Another interesting area of the review is airline licensing and
competition. Possible changes include streamlining the
authorisation of international services and changes to the
decision-making framework on alliance, code-sharing and similar
arrangements. One of the options considered is to give the Commerce
Commission the power to approve alliance and code-sharing
arrangements, in addition to any consideration required under the
Regulation of airports
The review is also looking at the Airport Authorities Act.
Issues under consideration include whether to change the definition
of specified airport companies and the thresholds for consultation
on capital expenditure. These proposals affect the scope of the
regulation under the Airport Authorities Act, and could end up
bringing more airports into the consultation and information
disclosure regimes under that Act.
The most significant changes for airports, however, are likely
to come from another source. The Government is to respond later
this year to the Commerce Commission's review over the last
couple of years of the effectiveness of information disclosure on
Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports.To assist, the
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
(MBIE) released a consultation paper on that
information disclosure regime on 1 August
see here. While aimed at the major airports, this work will
consider the relationship between the Airport Authorities Act and
the Commerce Act, which could affect all airports.
Deadlines for submissions
The deadline for submissions on the review of the Civil Aviation
Act and the Airport Authorities Act is 31 October 2014. Submissions
on MBIE's information disclosure paper are due by 28 November
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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