The IRS has ruled that airlines can keep 100% of the revenue they collect from baggage fees

January 31, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Aviation Law | Leave a comment

by Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz with the blog faculty

Source: American Public Media

Airlines get to keep the money

By Scott Jagow

The IRS has ruled that airlines can keep 100% of the revenue they collect from baggage fees. The agency says certain other non-ticket charges are tax-exempt as well. It’s clearly a win for the airlines. What about passengers?

The airlines asked the IRS to clarify tax rules regarding non-ticket revenues. The IRS responded by saying that baggage fees, food, alcohol and headsets are not subject to tax. But customer upgrades at check-in, purchases of frequent-flyer miles and fuel surcharges remain taxable. More from Bloomberg:

The decision is “a positive thing for the airlines,” said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks, an airline consulting firm in Shorewood, Wisconsin. “It will allow the airlines over the long term to realize all the revenue. They won’t have to share with the government.”

Carriers have been turning to sources other than tickets for revenue as government figures show fares stagnated at 1998 levels last year amid slumping demand in the recession. Sorensen estimated in a Jan. 20 report that the five largest airlines will collect $1.76 billion to check first and second bags, a $117 million increase over last year.

But some members of Congress say the airlines are effectively cheating the government by “unbundling” the flying experience — in other words, by charging separately for bags, food, choice seats, etc:

U.S. Representatives James Oberstar and Jerry Costello said in August that they were concerned the baggage and other fees “are resulting in revenue being diverted” from a federal tax fund for air-traffic control and other government aviation costs.

Democrats Oberstar of Minnesota and Costello of Illinois asked in a letter that the Government Accountability Office study “ways that Congress can effectively capture these fees.”

While Congress is working on that, does the IRS ruling mean airlines will reduce ticket prices and jack up fees (or just jack up fees)? United increased its first bag fee to $23 this month, matching Delta and Continental.

Will Southwest stay the course with its annoying “bags fly free” commercials? If so, Southwest is giving up quite a bit of tax-free revenue.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens. The airline industry didn’t get a bank/carmaker type rescue from the government. Perhaps this is a mini-bailout.

Libya Accedes to the Registration Convention

January 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Posted in Space Law | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

Libya has acceded to the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched Into Outer Space.

ABA Forum on Air & Space Law Annual Update Meeting

January 29, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event, Space Law Current Events, Student Blogger | Leave a comment

by Nicholas Welly, J.D. Candidate, University of Mississippi School of Law & Law Student Liasojn, ABA Forum on Air & Space Law

The morning’s events commenced with a Keynote address from Marion Blakely, the President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. Ms. Blakely provided a brief review of industry successes in 2009 and forecast industry strengths and weaknesses for 2010. She then shifted her focus to the issue of security, proposing several solutions to the security challenges facing international aviation, including (1) a push for internationally standardized screening processes, (2) utilizing the SAFETY Act as a mechanism to drive industry innovation while protecting innovators from lawsuits, (3) revamping the U.S. trade regulations to facilitate export of new security technologies, and (4) supporting NextGen as a comprehensive solution to current air traffic management and international aviation security challenges.

Mary U. Walsh, Assistant Chief Counsel for Legislation, Federal Aviation Administration moderated the morning’s first panel: “Washington Legislative Report.” Panelists included Gael Sullivan, a Democratic Professional Staff Member from the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; Holly Woodruff, Minority Staff Director and Counsel-Aviation on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Todd Hauptli, Senior Executive Vice President for the American Association of Airport Executives; Nancy Van Duyne, Vice President of Congressional Affairs at Continental Airlines; David Traynham, Director of Commercial Programs for Boeing; and James Conneely, an FAA Detailee to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The panelists discussed several issues, including Congressional funding for aviation infrastructure, focusing primarily on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), FAA reauthorization, and a 2010 industry outlook.

The morning concluded with the panel “Aviation Regulation: Burdens vs. Benefits,” moderated by Mark Gerchick of Gerchick, Murphy and Associates. Panelists included the Honorable Robert S. Rivkin, General Counsel for U.S. Department of Transportation; J. David Grizzle, Chief Counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration; Monica Hargrove-Kemp, General Counsel at ACI-NA; Ray Neidl, an Independent Airline Analyst (formerly, of Calyon Securities); and Doug Mullen, Senior Attorney at the Air Transport Association. The panelists noted the massive cultural transformation that will accompany the transition to NextGen within the FAA and the aviation industry as a whole. They also noted the cooperative role that airports can play in the development of new regulations and technologies, environmental planning, and screening procedures. Panelists discussed the financial challenges facing the airlines, especially with respect to raising capital. They further noted the DOT’s interest in disclosure regulation, recognizing a need to protect passengers against unfair practices. The panel discussed passenger rights rules and the imposition of strict time limits on air carriers, noting several exceptions to the DOT rule designed to accommodate situations like weather and congestion. The panelists described aviation as a mass transit system which must balance the costs imposed by passenger protection regimes with the financial effects on customer bases and infrastructure. Panelists also debated the role of the DOT in enforcement and the value of self-regulation practices in the industry, noting the costs and benefits to carriers associated with implementing crew resource management rules regarding pilot rest. Finally, panelists briefly discussed congestion management rule making and the issue of slot auctions at major airports.

Lori Garver, the Deputy Administrator for NASA provided the luncheon keynote address. Deputy Administrator Garver highlighted the historical circumstances leading to the passage of the NASA Act of 1958, and commemorated space law pioneers, including Dr. Eileen Galloway. She then noted that, since its inception, NASA has been a critical player in preventing a conflict in outer space, an achievement that ought not be taken for granted. Deputy Administrator Garver further noted the ISS has become the hallmark of international cooperation in space in furtherance of one of NASA’s statutory mandates. She then discussed the current transition to commercial space activities, noting that NASA’s utilization of the Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS), its reliance on commercial leases of microgravity transportation systems for astronaut training, and the development of commercial space tourism technologies stands in stark contrast to the Cold War policies that spawned NASA. Deputy Administrator Garver also noted that NASA continues to be a leader in flight safety and engineering, and is placing new emphasis on “green aviation” technologies. She highlighted the Administration’s role in the development of NextGen, and concluded by noting that NASA will continue to utilize its budget to fulfill its statutory charges in new and creative ways.

The afternoon line-up began with “Spotlight On International Affairs and Airline Alliances,” moderated by Charles Hunnicutt, a Partner at Troutman Sanders LLP. Panelists included the Honorable Susan Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation; Nancy D. LoBue, Acting Assistant Administrator for Aviation Policy, Planning & Environment at the Federal Aviation Administration; Rosalind K. Ellingsworth, a Consultant to labor organizations and airlines; David Heffernan, a Partner at WilmerHale; and Paul H. DeLaney III, Senior Attorney for Legal, Trade, and International Affairs at FedEx Express. The panel addressed major developments in 2009, noting the “second stage” negotiations between the U.S. and EU; agreements to expand the Star, Skyteam, and Oneworld alliances; bilateral talks with Japan aimed at Open Skies; climate talks at ICAO; and first steps toward implementation of the EU’s emissions trading scheme. Panelists debated the strengths and weaknesses of outsourcing in the aviation industry, especially with respect to maintenance, noting the pros and cons of trade restrictions in this area. They also reviewed the proposed slot auction at JFK, but could not comment on specifics of the transaction. The panelists discussed several approaches to reducing trade deficits and the ultimate impact on aviation.

The Conference space panel, “Satellite Navigation and the Emerging Space Law” followed next, chaired by Pamela Meredith, Co-Chair of the Space Law Practice Group at Zuckert Scoutt & Rasenberger, L.L.P. Panelists included Prof. Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, Director of the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law at The University of Mississippi School of Law; George Kinsey, Senior Attorney for Aquisition and Commercial Law at the Federal Aviation Administration; Shawn Cheadle, Associate General Counsel for Lockheed Martin Space Systems; and Naveen Rao, an Associate with the Government Regulation practice group at Jones Day. The panel discussed the historical advent of the Global Positioning System, several foreign satellite navigation systems, a technical description of the GPS constellation, the FAA’s role in managing satellite navigation systems and contracts (including GPS augmentation systems), and several GPS applications pertinent to the aviation industry. The panel then discussed the GPS-III contract recently awarded to Lockheed Martin and liability issues associated with government satellite contracts. The panelists also discussed emerging legal issues in the arena of GPS-enabled user equipment, including privacy issues and contract enforceability. Finally, the panelists highlighted challenges arising from satellite development and design, including the issue of counterfeit parts.

Hogan and Hartson Partner Thad T. Dameris moderated the Conference’s final panel, “Aviation Claims–Litigation Developments In 2009.” Panelists included Sebastien Saillard, Head of the Aviation Legal & Claims Department at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS); Andrew Harakas, a Partner at Clyde and Co.; Jessica McCausland, a Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Aviation and Admiralty Litigation Section; and James Healy-Pratt, a Partner at Stewarts Law LLP. The doctrine of Forum Non Conveniens (FNC) was the prevailing topic of the day’s final panel. The panelists introduced the doctrine and explained the basis for its invocation, following quickly with a debate about the pros and cons of pursuing claims in the U.S. which arise out of international aviation accidents, noting the sometimes unreliable accident investigation process in foreign countries. The panelists also discussed the expectations and outcomes generally associated with invoking the doctrine, and described recent trends in U.S. courts regarding FNC motions. The panelists further highlighted the role of tort reform in making FNC claims available to defendants, and highlighted several hot venues for plaintiffs both domestically and internationally. Moving away from FNC, the panelists discussed some of the current challenges in aviation litigation arising from the financial crisis, as well as the relative value of wrongful death cases under various legal systems. The panel concluded with a brief discussion about EU data privacy laws, the litigation challenges the present in the U.S., and several solutions to overcome these hurdles.

General Assembly Resolutions on Outer Space

January 29, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Space Law | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

General Assembly Resolutions dealing with outer space from the 64th Session of the General Assembly have now been posted to the UN General Assembly website:

A/RES/64/28: Prevention of an arms race in outer space

A/RES/64/49: Transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities

A/RES/64/86: International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space

Disasters Charter: Floods in Bolivia

January 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Posted in Space Law | Leave a comment

The Disasters Charter has been activated for flooding in Bolivia:

Flood in Bolivia

Type of Event: Floods
Location of Event: Bolivia
Date of Charter Activation: 26/01/2010
Charter Requestor: SIFEM
Project Management: Sistema Unico de Informacion
Description of the Event:
Severe floods were reported over Cochabamba, Potosi, Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, La Paz, Oruro and Tarija . At least 9,000 families have been evacuated from their homes.

Law and Moon Crater Naming

January 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Posted in Space Law | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

From the Times of India:

No SRK crater on moon!
JAISON LEWIS , 28 January 2010, 12:00am IST
News that Shah Rukh Khan has had a lunar crater named after him, Shah Rukh Khan Arago B, has turned out to be just a bit of moon shine and

It has emerged that a UN Outer Space Treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the moon or a planet, since they are the common heritage of mankind. However, an enterprising American entrepreneur from Nevada, Dennis Hope, claimed to have found a loophole in the treaty and has sold everything from real estate to crater names to millions of people around the globe. His company, the Lunar Geographical Society, was started in 1980 and he is the self-proclaimed head of the Lunar Embassy. In the last 20 Years Hope has made around nine million dollars.

Hope lets users claim their stake over craters by using his his web site to track named and unnamed craters. People pay the price for the crater and then receive a certificate and a picture of the crater they buy. The Shah Rukh Khan crater is allegedly located in the Southern Mare Tranquillitatis (3.4 ° N 20.8 ° E), its diameter is 7.0 kilometres with a depth of 140 metres and has no record of who the buyer is.

According to a report in the National Geographic, Tanja Masson-Zwaan, president of the International Institute of Space Law, based in the Netherlands dismissed Hope’s business tactic saying, “The trouble is that, legally, nobody can own the moon or anything else in space, for that matter.” . . . [Full Story]

The National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law Mourns the Loss of Gretchen Jeanette Harris

January 28, 2010 at 10:22 am | Posted in NCRSASL News | Leave a comment

By Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz with the NCRSASL faculty, staff, and students.

It is with great sadness that the we are informing the space law community of the sudden loss of Ms. Gretchen Jeanette Harris, a 2009 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law and and member of the second place team in the 2009 North American Round of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition. Her team mates attribute their winning the 2009 Best Brief award to Ms. Harris’ work. Ms. Harris was a superb student, finishing at the top of her class, a member of law review, an editor on the Journal of Space Law, and an excellent moot court competitor. She was a multifaceted, artistic, energetic young woman. In addition to law, her interests ranged from weaving, organizing benefits, and financial advising. Ms. Harris worked hard on fundraising events to help her town, Pass Christian, MS, recover from Hurricane Katrina.  Just last week, I recommended her to the State of Missouri Bar Examiners and she was at the beginning of what would have been a very promising career. She was a good friend and colleague to all of us at the Center. She will be missed.


The University of Mississippi Team places Second and wins Best Brief at the 2009 Manfred Lachs Space Moot Court Event – Nicolas Welly (far left), Prof. Gabrynowicz (left), Jason Crook (center), Gretchen Harris (right), and Prof. Blount (far right).

Joan Johnson-Freese to present at Rice University

January 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Space Law Current Events | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

From the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy:

The Space Policy Program of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Rice University cordially invites you to attend a presentation and book signing for Heavenly Ambitions:America’s Quest to Dominate Space with Joan Johnson-Freese, Ph.D., Chair, National Security Decision Making Department United States Naval War College.

Welcoming remarks by George Abbey, Baker Botts Senior Fellow in Space Policy
Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Monday, February 1, 2010
6:00 pm Presentation
Reception to Follow
Kelly International Conference Facility
James A. Baker III Hall
Rice University

Joan Johnson-Freese, Ph.D., is the chair of the National Security Decision Making Department at the Naval War College. Previously, she taught at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies and the Air War College. She has also been an associate professor of political science and director of the Center for Space Policy and Law at the University of Central Florida. Johnson-Freese’s research focuses on space security issues, including technology transfer and export, missile defense, transparency, space and development, transformation, and globalization. Her recent books include “Heavenly Ambitions: America’s Quest to Dominate Space” (2009) and “Space As A Strategic Asset” (2007). Johnson-Freese has also published articles in Joint Forces Quarterly, Nature, Space Policy, Issues in Science & Technology and The Nonproliferation Review. She is a fellow of the International Academy of Astronautics and a visiting fellow of the Watson Institute of International Affairs at Brown University, and has testified before Congress regarding space security and China. She also teaches courses on globalization and terrorism as well as space and security at Harvard Summer School.

Please RSVP by fax to 713.348.5993, by e-mail to or on the
Web at before Wednesday, January 27.

Get Res Communis via E-mail!!

January 27, 2010 at 11:20 am | Posted in NCRSASL News | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

It just got easier to keep up with Res Communis. We are happy to announce that now, in addition to reading reading Res Communis through our RSS feed, you can also sign up to receive a daily digest in your email box.

Conference on Disarmament Statements

January 27, 2010 at 11:09 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

The 2010 Conference on Disarmament is underway, and statements are beginning to be posted on the CD’s website. Those that address PAROS will be linked at Res Communis:

January 19: Mexico – Ambassador Gomez Camacho (Spanish)

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