Iata’s research has revealed that airlines are still in the doldrums

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — (April 20, 2021) — The fallout from a recent court decision regarding compensated flight training in Limited Category aircraft threatens the ability to train and maintain proficiency in a broad spectrum of aircraft, according to letter sent by several general aviation groups to the Federal Aviation Administration. The April 20 letter signed jointly by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), was sent to Ali Bahrami, FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety. The letter noted that the April 3 judgment issued by the D.C. Court of Appeals in the Warbird Adventures, Inc., et al vs. Federal Aviation Administration case “has created significant confusion and concern in the aviation community regarding the impact of the decision on compensated flight training.” In its ruling, the court declined to lift a cease-and-desist order issued by the FAA against Warbird Adventures of Kissimmee, Fla. The judgment concluded that Warbird Adventures was operating a limited category aircraft for compensated flight training without a required exemption. Unfortunately, the court went further and stated that a flight instructor who receives compensation for flight instruction is carrying persons for compensation or hire. This occurred in the form of an unpublished opinion, meaning the court did not see precedential value in the ruling, but the FAA could cite the decision as precedent in future cases. The court ruling suggests that any compensated training in Limited Category aircraft, whether or not the use of the aircraft is compensated by the student, requires an exemption. This could potentially prevent aircraft owners from training in their own aircraft. Without offering an opinion on the specifics in this particular case, EAA, AOPA, and GAMA were part of a group that had filed an amicus brief in the case, noting that a court decision favoring the FAA could greatly hinder flight training in historic aircraft. The Limited Category was created after World War II to allow civil operation of aircraft that had proven records as military aircraft. That includes approximately 350 aircraft in the FAA registry, with about two dozen exemptions that allow compensated flight training. In addition, the FAA has historically not prohibited owners of limited category aircraft from paying instructors for flight training in the owners’ aircraft. “We are seeking FAA clarification in three areas: how the agency characterizes flight training, flight instruction in Limited Category aircraft, and flight instruction in other categories of aircraft,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA’s CEO and chairman of the board. “This court decision has led FAA to consider a broadbrush application of the rule that could restrict access to flight training and therefore, negatively affect aviation safety. This is why immediate clarification is so important, to determine how flight training can be provided in Limited Category aircraft as well as the essential flight training in many other categories of aircraft that takes place on a daily basis.”
EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — (April 20, 2021) — The fallout from a recent court decision regarding compensated flight training in Limited Category aircraft threatens the ability to train and maintain proficiency in a broad spectrum of aircraft, according to letter sent by several general aviation groups to the Federal Aviation Administration. The April 20 letter signed jointly by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), was sent to Ali Bahrami, FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety. The letter noted that the April 3 judgment issued by the D.C. Court of Appeals in the Warbird Adventures, Inc., et al vs. Federal Aviation Administration case “has created significant confusion and concern in the aviation community regarding the impact of the decision on compensated flight training.” In its ruling, the court declined to lift a cease-and-desist order issued by the FAA against Warbird Adventures of Kissimmee, Fla. The judgment concluded that Warbird Adventures was operating a limited category aircraft for compensated flight training without a required exemption. Unfortunately, the court went further and stated that a flight instructor who receives compensation for flight instruction is carrying persons for compensation or hire. This occurred in the form of an unpublished opinion, meaning the court did not see precedential value in the ruling, but the FAA could cite the decision as precedent in future cases. The court ruling suggests that any compensated training in Limited Category aircraft, whether or not the use of the aircraft is compensated by the student, requires an exemption. This could potentially prevent aircraft owners from training in their own aircraft. Without offering an opinion on the specifics in this particular case, EAA, AOPA, and GAMA were part of a group that had filed an amicus brief in the case, noting that a court decision favoring the FAA could greatly hinder flight training in historic aircraft. The Limited Category was created after World War II to allow civil operation of aircraft that had proven records as military aircraft. That includes approximately 350 aircraft in the FAA registry, with about two dozen exemptions that allow compensated flight training. In addition, the FAA has historically not prohibited owners of limited category aircraft from paying instructors for flight training in the owners’ aircraft. “We are seeking FAA clarification in three areas: how the agency characterizes flight training, flight instruction in Limited Category aircraft, and flight instruction in other categories of aircraft,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA’s CEO and chairman of the board. “This court decision has led FAA to consider a broadbrush application of the rule that could restrict access to flight training and therefore, negatively affect aviation safety. This is why immediate clarification is so important, to determine how flight training can be provided in Limited Category aircraft as well as the essential flight training in many other categories of aircraft that takes place on a daily basis.”

The association says passenger traffic for March 2021 is still at rock bottom when measured by pre-COVID standards (March 2019), although there has been a slight improvement overall in the numbers when compared with February 2021. 

Iata is using the ‘normal’ month of March 2019 as the comparison due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding airline traffic in March 2020.

Total demand for air travel in March 2021, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) was down 67,2% compared with March 2019. That was an improvement over the 74,9% decline recorded in February 2021 versus February 2019. Better performance was driven by gains in domestic markets, particularly China, while globally, international traffic remained largely restricted, dragging the overall numbers down.

International passenger demand in March this year was 87,8% below March 2019, a very small improvement from the 89% decline recorded in February 2021 versus February 2019. 

Domestic demand was down by only 32,3% versus pre-crisis levels (March 2019). This was a significant improvement on the February comparisons, when February 2021 domestic traffic was down 51,2% from February 2019. China was the key contributor to improved domestic traffic.

In Africa, which accounts for 1,9% of the world’s passenger traffic, passenger numbers were down 71,8% compared with March 2019. International traffic saw a 73,7% drop and international load factors were 49%.

“The positive momentum we saw in some key domestic markets in March is an indication of the strong recovery we are anticipating in international markets as travel restrictions are lifted,” said Willie Walsh, Iata dg.

“The emergence of new COVID-19 variants and rising cases in some countries are behind governments’ reluctance to lift travel restrictions and quarantine. However, we are beginning to see positive developments, such as the recent announcement by European Commission President Von der Leyen that vaccinated travellers from the US will be allowed to enter the EU. At least 24 countries have already said they will welcome vaccinated travellers. We expect this to continue and gather momentum as vaccination numbers rise. However, governments should not rely only on vaccinations, as it risks discriminating against those individuals who are unable to get a vaccine for medical or other reasons, or who lack access to vaccines – a common situation in much of the world today. Affordable, timely and effective testing must be available as an alternative to vaccines in facilitating travel,” he said. 

“Furthermore, for as long as these health measures are required, governments need to accept digital COVID-19 test and vaccination certificates and to follow global standards for issuing their own vaccination certificates and test results. We are already seeing intolerable waits at some airports, as airlines, passengers and border control authorities are having to rely on paper processes at a time when airports are no longer designed to accommodate them.

“The Iata Travel Pass addresses this challenge by enabling travellers to control and share their digital vaccination certificate or test results with airlines and border authorities, easing facilitation and reducing the risk of fraudulent documents,” said Willi