The aviation industry operates in a complex legal environment, where numerous regulators are active at national, European and international level. The result is an overlapping patchwork of national laws, European regulations and directives, and international agreements that govern every aspect of the aviation business, from international traffic rights to aircraft safety.
Through an extensive set of liberalization measures, an internal aviation market has been created in the EU which offers significant commercial opportunities. At the same time, the initiatives of EU legislators in aviation regulation in fields as diverse as the environment, security, slot allocation, and air passenger rights, continually pose new challenges to airlines operating in Europe. Importantly, EU regulations increasingly apply to flights not only on routes within the EU but also on routes between the EU and third countries.
Van Bael & Bellis has considerable experience in the field of aviation law, which has formed part of the firm’s practice since its establishment. We advise a broad range of internationally-based clients, including airlines, international trade associations, and governments.
Our firm combines its expertise in aviation regulation with its expertise in others areas of law, such as competition law, internal market law and consumer protection law, to provide sophisticated legal services to the aviation industry.
Monitoring and lobbying strategies
The firm has extensive experience in actively monitoring the activities of the EU institutions and reporting to clients on every stage of the EU legislative process and on the latest EU policy developments. We assist our clients in devising tailor-made lobbying strategies in relation to issues of concern, which allow them to put their case effectively to EU and national authorities. In this context, we actively intervene on behalf of our clients in EU decision-making processes through the presentation of position papers and other lobbying activities, and we assist our clients in obtaining access to EU and national decision-makers. For example, Van Bael & Bellis has represented clients in industry consultation hearings, and before Members of the European Parliament, national delegations and the European Commission on issues such as computerised reservation systems, air carrier liability, passenger contracts, denied-boarding legislation and slot allocation.
Representation before the Commission
Our firm represents clients in proceedings before the EU Commission's Directorate-General for Transport and Directorate-General for Competition, acting for complainants or defendants. For instance, Van Bael & Bellis has represented aviation clients in various proceedings under the EU CRS Code of Conduct, notifications under the general competition rules and proceedings relating to abuses of a dominant position. Recently, Van Bael & Bellis represented a major Japanese flag carrier in a complex competition law proceeding before the Commission.
Aviation clients turn to Van Bael & Bellis for compliance programmes tailored to their business needs. Members of Van Bael & Bellis give seminars and briefings for clients on a wide variety of issues in the field of aviation law.