Shane Ross publishes draft reforms for air travel regulation

Minister for Transport wants to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for aviation requirements

An Aer Lingus plane lands at Dublin Airport. Minister for Transport Shane Ross has published draft laws to change how the State regulates air travel. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

An Aer Lingus plane lands at Dublin Airport. Minister for Transport Shane Ross has published draft laws to change how the State regulates air travel. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has published draft laws to change how the State regulates air travel.

Mr Ross wants to move responsibility for regulating air travel safety to the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) from its current overseer, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

On Friday, he published the general scheme of the Air Navigation and Transport Bill, 2019, which was approved by Government this week.

Mr Ross has been planning the change in air travel regulation since 2017, following a review by consultants Helios, which recommended the move on the basis of the approach taken by most other EU member states.

Under the current regime, the IAA governs safety, air traffic control and navigation through Irish airspace, while the CAR regulates consumer rights, travel agents and tour operators and sets the passenger charges that Dublin Airport levies on airlines.

If the Oireachtas passes Mr Ross’s proposed changes, the IAA will keep responsibility for air traffic control, meaning the management of takeoffs and landings at airports. It will also retain control over air navigation, which involves guiding craft through the Republic’s airspace, which is extensive and encompasses most routes between Europe and North America.

Global industry

Mr Ross said civil aviation is a global industry that is in a constant state of evolution and technological advances.

“We need to make sure that our regulatory regime is strong and responsive to the many challenges in relation to safety, security, consumer protection and connectivity. It is widely accepted that the Government’s aviation regulation reform initiative, which is set out in the National Aviation Plan, is an important part of securing Ireland’s prominent place on the global stage,” he said.

Mr Ross said the Bill will establish a new, modern regulator which will act as a “one-stop shop” for safety, security, economic and consumer regulation requirements.

“It will provide cleaner and more efficient lines of communication and customer service for . . . the travelling public, industry, and workers within the aviation sector.”

He said this is a priority Bill for the Government and he intends to “move it along swiftly”.

The Government has approved the appointment of a chief regulator designate who will be responsible for leading the transition to the new arrangements.