Open Skies and Code Shares Nitty Gritty

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» Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Airlines, Hotels, Industry Postings | 0 comments

I found the material in both of these lessons (2b and 2c) informative regarding airline and hotel requirements. Particularly useful are the sections on City Pair fares and FEMA hotel requirements. While the target audience for the material is travel agents or those in the travel industry dealing directly with government employee travel, there is an opportunity to expand to those working for government contractors by outlining how these regulations apply or do not apply to the government contractor. Government contractors have to abide by many of the same regulations, though not all. For example, the GSA on its Contractor Fact Sheet (http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/102009) has made it clear that City Pairs are not required of, because they cannot be used by, government contractors. The information regarding code shares was explained in a very clear way, however upon further investigation on the GSAs site, I was left with a few questions. One question was (1) do the Open Skies agreements apply to the country of origin, destination or where the affiliated airline is headquartered? For example, KLM may provide travel between Kenya and Burundi, however the airline itself is headquartered in the Netherlands. There are Open Skies agreements between the United States and the Netherlands as well as with Kenya, however the United States does not have an Open Skies Agreement with the destination country, Burundi. The answer here lies in the stipulations of the Open Skies agreements themselves. For instance, if KLM’s flight was part of a trip originating in the Netherlands and terminating in the United States, stopping in Kenya and Burundi, it could possibly qualify under Article 2 (1(c(ii))) and Article 2(2(i)). Since the Open Skies agreements are predominately concerned with the flag carrier airlines and route between the countries, in this scenario the Open Skies agreement between the United States and Kenya is of no consequence since KLM is a Netherlands flag carrier airline. Also, (2) does the GSA recognize all code share agreements between U.S. flag carriers or only some? Questions posed to the GSA have not returned any answers, however on further research, it would seem that code share agreements between U.S. and foreign flag carriers must be approved by the Department of Transportation (http://ostpxweb.dot.gov/aviation/intlaviation.htm). In considering if a code share agreement is to be approved, DOT must consider law (49 USC §§40101(e), 40105 (1994)) which essentially de facto requires most of the conditions of open skies between the U.S. and the country of the foreign airline. If this is truly the case, then it is likely that the GSA would recognize all code share agreements as part of reciprocity between the agencies of the USG. These questions deserve some greater clarity, however and hopefully additional research will uncover additional helpful finds.

By Olivia Tautkus

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