Relax, Ross’s aviation Bill is going nowhere fast
Cantillon: Plan to restructure aviation regulation up for debate
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross: his aviation plan is more in line with the way that most European countries oversee aviation. Photograph: Laura Hutton/ The Irish Times
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, is not known for speed. Last year, he pledged to shift responsibility for air travel safety to the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), whose main responsibility is safeguarding consumer rights, from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), which currently oversees it.
That would leave the IAA with charge of air traffic control and navigation, services for which it charges airlines.
Ross’s department confirmed early last year that he intended restructuring aviation regulation in this way. Little else was heard of the plan until it emerged on Monday that a draft of the legislation needed to restructure aviation regulation was almost complete.
News that the proposal remained on Ross’s agenda sparked some speculation about his motivation. Specifically, whether he wanted to split the IAA as he felt it had become a bit of an empire in its own right and needed to be broken up.
The reason for the move is far more mundane. Consultants Helios recommended that the Government restructure air travel regulation and give CAR responsibility for safety in a report finished in 2017, which, though large, made little public impression.
That advice was based on the fact that the EU favours this approach and it is more in line with the way that most European countries oversee aviation.
Nevertheless, anyone who fears that Ross is moving faster than normal can relax. The draft legislation will be the subject of what is loosely called a debate in an Oireachtas committee before the actual Bill is published. So it is unlikely there will be any real movement on this until the second half of the year at the earliest.