Entries for the Tag:Boston Jet Charter
…I’m Tellin Y’All it’s Cabotage
NHL Impacted by Fight Between USDOT and CTA
The punches are flying already and the season hasn’t even started yet. Last week Air Canada Jetz charter service, which has contracts. with 7 pro sports teams, filed a lawsuit to block enforcement of a USDOT order that Air Canada cancel its season-long contract.
The underlying problem is that Air Canada has been contracted to fly Canadian sports teams between cities in the United States without first returning to Canada. This would be a violation of Cabotage, the commonly used moniker defining the law and treaty that prohibits foreign airlines from picking up passengers in the U.S. and flying them between U.S. destinations. An example would be Air Canada flying their jet to Boston to pick up the Red Sox then flying to New York for series against the Yankees, then flying the Sox back to Boston. Similarly, U.S. airlines are banned from doing the same in foreign countries. The rules are designed to ensure that U.S. flights are flown by U.S. carriers. So, the USDOT issued an order for Air Canada to cancel some of its contracts.
The Canadian Transportation Agency retaliated by banning flights by U.S. carriers that require multiple stops within Canada forcing a U.S. charter carrier, owning contracts with 10 NHL teams this season, to arrange for a Canadian charter to make intra-Canada flights last weekend for the Florida Panthers, rather than carry the NHL team itself.
The interesting thing about this fracas is that for years, the USDOT has allowed Canadian carriers to fly sports teams on intra-U.S. flights if the teams ultimately would return to Canada. The entire season of flights was considered one charter with the final destination being a city in Canada. And, U.S. airlines ferrying American teams were permitted to fly within Canada. So, everyone was happy.
But then the Air Line Pilots Association union, two U.S. aviation trade groups and a U.S. charter carrier began calling for a penalty last year because Air Canada won DOT-approved contracts to fly two American sports teams - the NHL’s Bruins and the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. The pilots want to ensure that U.S. flights are operated by U.S. pilots. In an order to Air Canada’s Washington lawyer, the USDOT said it had discovered that the airline previously carried individuals on Bruins and Bucks charters who were transported solely within the U.S. and never carried across the border during the season, contrary to the DOT’s agreement with the airline and issued the stop order.
As a fan of NHL Hockey (and my Philadelphia Flyers!), and having been in the position of having to deal with Cabotage regularly for the charters we arrange, I am disappointed that this argument has gotten this far. Many NHL teams are struggling financially. Small market cites, small fan base, poor TV ratings and revenues all conspire to place financial handcuffs on teams. Having to now deal with a major travel disruption on the eve of the season will most likely cause irreparable damage to at least one team. We’ll keep an eye on this and update as things develop.