On May 30 2016 the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) issued Circular EAL-23 regarding non-scheduled air transport services operated outside the European Union to and from Italian airports. ENAC's rules apply to EU carriers (licensed pursuant to EU Regulation 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air service) and extra-community carriers, on the condition that their states of origin grant equal treatment to EU carriers (the so-called 'reciprocity principle'). The rules are in line with Article 787 of the Italian Navigation Code, which states that "extra-community services are authorized, on a reciprocity basis, to air carriers holding a community license and to carriers of the State with which the traffic is made".

ENAC's definition of a 'non-scheduled service' include:

  • passenger air transport, including:
    • charter flights;
    • emergency and humanitarian flights; and
    • other kinds of flight, such as for special events and taxi services;
  • cargo or airmail transport, including flights for the carriage of cargo, mail or dangerous goods.

Further to the reciprocity principle, extra-EU carriers willing to obtain authorisations to fly to and from Italy must be accredited in advance by ENAC. The first prerequisite is that the carrier holds a third-country operator authorisation from the European Aviation Safety Agency. Accreditation will be subject to the following conditions:

  • consistency between the contents of the third-country operator authorisation relating to the aircraft to be operated in Italy and the applicant carrier's air operator certificate;
  • approval of the carrier's safety programme by the competent civil aviation authority and a declaration of conformity to Annex 17 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation; and
  • valid insurance coverage pursuant to EU Regulation 785/2004.

In terms of timing, flight information and documents to be provided to ENAC, the authorisation process is regulated depending on whether the aircraft intended to be used has a maximum operational passenger seating configuration of less than, equal to or more than 20 seats.

Further, for extra-EU carriers planning to perform fifth freedom and seventh freedom flights, authorisation is subject to non-objection from Italian and EU carriers with a permanent establishment in Italy. This rule applies to flights:

  • originating in State A and operated by a carrier from State A between State B and State C (fifth freedom); and
  • operated by a carrier from State A between State B and State C (seventh freedom).

Italian and EU carriers must receive prior notice of the extra-EU carrier's intended operations, alongside its filing of an authorisation request to ENAC. If a carrier has an objection, it must inform the extra-EU carrier and ENAC within three days from the date of the flights concerned. ENAC evaluates objections based on:

  • the condition that the objecting carrier can cover the requested load capacity (for passengers or cargo); and
  • other factors, such as the number of carriers submitting the objection and whether they already serve scheduled flights on the same route.

Fifth freedom and seventh freedom all-cargo flights are exempted from the non-objection procedure.

For further information on this topic please contact Laura Pierallini at Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati by telephone (+39 06 88 41 713) or email (l.pierallini@pierallini.it). The Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati website can be accessed at www.studiopierallini.it.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.