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Recent developments and trends

Recent developments

Are there any notable recent developments or trends in the aviation sector in your jurisdiction?

Aviation in Turkey is developing at a fast pace. New airports are under construction and air carriers are setting up new domestic and international destinations, with growing volumes of passengers and cargo carried to and from long-distance destinations. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) (ie, drones) have also constituted a new area to be regulated and controlled in respect of safety and security issues; in particular, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has promulgated a directive on UAVs and launched a framework on the use of UAVs in Turkey. In addition, airline operators and other air carriers are planning to add new wide-body aircraft to their fleets, which is more good news for the aviation sector.

Regulatory framework

Domestic law

What is the primary domestic legislation governing the aviation industry in your jurisdiction?

The primary domestic laws governing the aviation industry in Turkey are the Civil Aviation Act (2920) and the Act on the Organisation and Duties of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (5431).

International law

What international aviation agreements has your jurisdiction concluded?

Turkey has concluded the following international agreements:

  • the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation (1944);
  • the International Air Services Transit Agreement (1944);
  • the International Air Transport Agreement (1944);
  • the Warsaw Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to International Carriage by Air (1929);
  • Montreal Protocol 4;
  • the Montreal Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to International Carriage by Air (1999);
  • the Tokyo Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (1963);
  • the Hague Protocol to Amend the Warsaw Convention;
  • the Hague Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft (1970);
  • the Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation (1971);
  • the Montreal Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, supplementary to the Montreal Convention (1971); and
  • the Cape Town Convention and Protocol on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (2001).

Regulatory authorities

Which government bodies regulate the aviation industry and what is the extent of their powers?

The principal body regulating and administering civil aviation operations in Turkey is the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which is a department of the Ministry of  Transport, Maritime and Communications. The DGCA is authorised to make rules for, regulate, investigate, prosecute, license and audit civil aviation operations under the Act on Civil Aviation and the Act on the Organisation and Duties of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

 

Air carrier operations

Operating authorisation

What procedural and documentary requirements must air carriers meet in order to operate in your jurisdiction?

The requirements to obtain an operating licence are established in the Regulations for Commercial Air Carriage Enterprises (SHY-6A). The air carrier must be a company registered in the trade registry with its principal place of business within the territory of Turkey. The business activities of cargo and passenger air carriers with aircraft having passenger capacity of more than 20 seats are restricted to aviation and aviation-related activities. A majority of the company’s shares, positions on the board of directors and voting rights must belong to Turkish citizens.

 

Air carriers applying for an operating licence must meet the requirements stated in the third section of the SHY-6A Regulations regarding:

·         paid-up capital amounts;

·         the required number of aircraft and aircraft capacity according to the type of flight operations (eg, scheduled, non-scheduled, passenger or cargo carriage, air taxi or regional air transport);

·         the organisational chart and the list of post holders;

·         the operation manual;

·         the training manual;

·         agreements with licensed and recognised service suppliers; and

·         insurance policies. 

 

To obtain an operating licence, the air carrier must prepare a file containing all of the information and documents listed in the attachment to the SHY-6A Regulations in order to prove that it has meet the relevant requirements. The air carrier must also file a front application with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). If the front application and submitted information and documents are found to be sufficient, a meeting with the DGCA will be scheduled, wherein the air carrier will provide detailed information on:

·         its planned enterprise;

·         its supply of aircraft;

·         the employment and training of its personnel;

·         its aircraft maintenance systems;

·         its financial capacity;

·         its supply of customers;

·         its intended types and territory of operation; and

·         other related issues.

 

The DGCA reviews and evaluates all information and documents submitted and assesses whether the applicant has the financial capacity and meets the requirements set in the SHY-6A Regulations. If the DGCA is satisfied with the application and supporting documents, the applicant will be notified of the acceptance of its front application.

 

Within 10 days of this notification, the applicant must submit all further required documents, including manuals, system details, bank guarantees, technical documents and activities schedules. If the documents meet the requirements, the applicant will submit its application for an aircraft operation certificate to the DGCA before expiry of the front permission term. The DGCA will carry out an audit of the submitted documents and information to confirm that they are satisfactory. The DGCA thereafter carries out an audit of the applicant’s suitability for an aircraft operation certificate. If the result of this audit is satisfactory, the application will be submitted to the minister of transport for his or her approval and issuance of the certificate.

 

Ownership and control

Do any nationality or other requirements or restrictions apply to ownership or control of air carriers operating in your jurisdiction?

The Civil Aviation Act and the SHY-6A and SHY-6B Regulations require that the majority of the air carrier’s voting shares (ie, at least 51%) be owned by Turkish citizens, and that the management remain under the actual control of Turkish citizens.

Foreign operators wishing to operate between Turkey and other countries must be assessed by the Ministry of Transport, which will take into account the bilateral and multilateral treaties to which Turkey is a party as well as the principle of reciprocity.

The commercial carriage of passengers, goods and mail between destinations within the territory of Turkey can be conducted only by Turkish nationals (Article 41 of the Civil Aviation Act).

Financial requirements

What financial thresholds must air carriers meet to obtain operating authorisation?

Pursuant to the SHY-6A Regulations, operators wishing to conduct scheduled or charter flights or regional air carriage should have fully paid-up capital of a certain amount for each aircraft in their fleet:

  • An operator intending to operate with aircraft having a seat capacity of 100 or more must have fully paid-up capital of at least $15 million and should have at least five aircraft (whether owned or leased) registered under its title in the Turkish Aircraft Registry. This $15 million paid-up capital is sufficient for up to 15 aircraft, while additional paid-up capital of $1 million is required for each aircraft over the first 15 aircraft.
  • An operator intending to operate with aircraft having a seat capacity of at least 20 and up to 99 must have fully paid-up capital of at least $5 million and should have at least two aircraft  (whether owned or leased) registered under its title in the Turkish Aircraft Registry. This $5 million paid-up capital is sufficient for up to 10 aircraft, while additional paid-up capital of $500,000 is required for each aircraft over the first 10 aircraft.

To obtain operating authorisation, the operator must deposit a bank letter of guarantee in the sum of $500,000.

Insurance coverage

What is the required level of insurance coverage for air carrier operations?

Articles 132 to 138 of the Civil Aviation Act stipulate the insurance requirements for air carrier operations. Article 132 provides that air carriers authorised to carry passengers, cargo or mail must have financial liability insurance covering amounts up to the limits of its liability. Article 138 stipulates that operators should have compulsory insurance coverage for potential damages that they might cause to third parties during their flight operations.

EU Regulation 785/2004 on insurance requirements for air carriers and operators was adopted into Turkish law through two separate regulations dealing with insurance requirements, minimum insurance coverage amounts (in special drawing rights) and penalties for non-compliance.

 

Safety requirements

What safety requirements apply to air carrier operations, including with regard to professional and technical certifications?

Although Turkey is not a member of the European Union, it collaborates with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) under a special protocol and EASA safety requirements are implemented in Turkey. One of the most significant of these implementing regulations is the Regulation on Continuing Airworthiness and Maintenance Liability (SHY-M), which defines and regulates the duties of the Department of Airworthiness under the DGCA. More specific details on obtaining and maintaining airworthiness certificates are set out in the Directive on the Issuance and Extension of Airworthiness Certificates, compliance with which is essential for the registration and operation of any aircraft. A certificate of airworthiness is issued following a full review of the aircraft’s compliance with the requirements for the flight and service manuals, air directives and service bulletins. In this regard, the DGCA regularly carries out audits of operators, aircraft, personnel and maintenance services.

Operators must employ a requisite number of flight crew, maintenance personnel, training and quality control personnel and operations personnel, who are subject to the DGCA’s approval following the inspection and on satisfaction of the DGCA’s requirements.

Another important provision is DGCA Directive SHT-50, which regulates the flight, flight duties and rest hours of the flight crew (eg, setting maximum allowed flight hours and minimum rest hours). The observance and implementation of these regulations are closely reviewed and violations are subject to prosecution and penalties.

Environmental obligations

What environmental obligations apply to air carrier operations?

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 16 applies. DGCA Regulation SHY-21 also establishes environmental protection requirements with regard to the issuance of airworthiness certificates and flight permits, as well as the import and assembly of aircraft devices, equipment and parts. Non-compliance with the requirements is subject to fines, denial of certification or prohibition of operations or flights.

Air traffic control

How are air traffic control services regulated in your jurisdiction?

Air traffic control services are provided by the State Airports Enterprises Directorate General in accordance with the standards and procedures of ICAO annexes and documents.

Routes

Do any licensing requirements apply to specific routes?

The routes on which an air carrier may operate are defined in the operation licence. Any change or addition is subject to the approval of the DGCA.

Are any public service obligations in place with respect to remote destinations?

No.

Charter services

Do any special provisions apply to charter services?

No. Charter services are regulated under the SHY-6A Regulations.

Taxes

What taxes apply to the provision of air carrier services?

Air carriers are not subject to any particular taxes other than corporate tax imposed on revenues and value added tax (VAT). VAT is not applicable to international flights.

Consumer protection and liability

Airfares

Are airfares regulated in your jurisdiction?

Airfares are not regulated, although operators licensed for commercial flight operations must obtain approval for their flight schedules and fare tariffs from the Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communication (Article 25 of the Civil Aviation Act). However, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has announced that it has reached an accord with domestic air carriers for a maximum fare for domestic flights, which is said to be accepted and voluntarily observed by all carriers. There is no legal basis for such restriction.

Passenger protection

What rules and liabilities are air carriers subject to in respect of:

(a) Flight delays and cancellations?

In 2011 the DGCA promulgated Regulation SHY-YOLCU governing passenger rights in case of flight delays, cancellations and denied boarding. This regulation aligns with EU Regulation 261/2004 and establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in case of delays, cancellations and denied boarding. Passengers can also file claims with the commercial courts for damages and losses not covered by Regulation SHY-YOLCU.

(b) Oversold flights?

See above.

(c) Denied boarding?

See above.

(d) Access for disabled passengers?

Article 12 of Regulation SHY-YOLCU stipulates that air carriers must give priority to the carriage of disabled passengers and certified guide dogs accompanying them, and to children travelling alone.

(e) Lost, damaged or destroyed luggage?

Turkey is a signatory to the Montreal Convention 1999 and the Warsaw Convention 1929. The Civil Aviation Act contains provisions in line with these conventions on the liability of the air carrier for damages to passengers, luggage and cargo. Compensation for cargo, luggage loss, damage to passengers (death and injury) and delays is subject to limitations under the conventions.

(f) Retention and protection of passenger data?

On April 7 2016 the Act on Protection of Personal Data was published in the Official Gazette. The act is based mainly on the underlying principles of EU Directive 95/46/EC. However, the higher standards of the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which will enter into force in the European Union in May 2018, are not reflected in the act.

Under the act, the main requirement for the collection and processing of personal data is to obtain the explicit consent of the person whose data will be collected and/or processed (ie, the data subject). However, personal data can be collected and processed without the data subject’s consent if:

  • collection and processing are permitted by any specific legal provision;
  • the data subject is in a position rendering him or her unable to provide consent (eg, due to physical impossibility or lack of legal capacity) and processing is necessary to protect the data subject’s or a third party’s life or physical integrity;
  • processing is necessary to perform a contract to which the data subject will be or is a party;
  • processing is necessary in order for the data controller to perform its legal duties;
  • the personal data has been made available to the public by the data subject; or
  • processing is necessary to assign, use or protect a right.

These conditions also apply to the transfer of personal data to third parties within Turkey.

Cargo

What rules and liabilities apply to the air carriage of cargo?

Turkey is a signatory to the Montreal Convention 1999 and the Warsaw Convention 1929. The Civil Aviation Act contains provisions in line with these conventions on the liability of the air carrier for damages to passengers, luggage and cargo. Compensation for cargo, luggage loss, damage to passengers (death and injury) and delays is subject to limitations under the conventions.

Marketing and advertising

Do any special rules apply to the marketing and advertising of aviation services?

No.

Complaints handling

Do any special rules apply to consumer complaints handling in the aviation industry?

Consumer complaints are subject to the Consumer Rights Protection Act, which enables consumers to defend their rights and obtain remedies in a more practical and timely manner. Consumers should file their complaints with the consumer arbitration council of the relevant county or province. These councils arbitrate claims and quickly resolve conflicts. Where the parties are unsatisfied with the arbitral award, they may file suit for its cancellation before the Consumer Rights Court.

Aircraft

Aircraft register

What are the requirements for entry in the domestic aircraft register?

In order to be entered in the domestic aircraft register, the aircraft must:

  • be a Turkish civil aircraft or considered as a Turkish civil aircraft;  
  • not be registered in another country (if the aircraft was previously registered in a foreign country, a certificate of deletion from such register is required); and
  • have a certificate of airworthiness issued by the Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications.

Mortgages and encumbrances

Is there a domestic register for aircraft mortgages, encumbrances and other interests? If so, what are the requirements and legal effects of registration?

There is not a separate register of aircraft mortgages and charges. All mortgages, liens and encumbrances are recorded in the aircraft register.

Detention

What rules and procedures govern the detention of aircraft?

The Civil Procedure Act and the Execution and Bankruptcy Act govern the detention of aircraft. Aircraft cannot be detained without a court order to that effect in relation to aircraft and unpaid debts. Preliminary injunctions or cautionary detention orders entailing the detention of aircraft can be obtained before on commencement of legal action, as well as at later stages for recovery of debts or repossession of the aircraft.

Safety and maintenance

What rules and procedures govern aircraft safety and maintenance?

The Civil Aviation Act is the main legislation setting out the rules and procedures governing aircraft safety and maintenance. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is empowered by the Act  on the Organisation and Duties of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (5431) to issue and execute directives, regulations and licences and undertake audits in relation to aircraft safety and maintenance. There is a body of detailed rules and regulations for the licensing and operation of aircraft maintenance personnel and maintenance providers in line with European Aviation Safety Agency regulations.

Drones

What is the state of regulation on unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in your jurisdiction?

The DGCA established regulations on the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in Turkey with the Directive on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SHT-IHA).The directive specifies the procedures and principles for the purchase, sale, registration, airworthiness and operation of UAS, as well as the fines to be imposed for violations of the directive. The directive also regulates the responsibilities and liabilities of UAS pilots.

The directive categorises UAS in accordance with the vehicle’s maximum take-off weight and requires different procedures to be followed depending on the category of the relevant UAS. In this context, UAS with a take-off weight of more than 25 kilograms must be registered in the aircraft register. Operators of these systems must obtain third-party liability insurance coverage.

UAS with a maximum take-off weight of up to 24 kilograms that are used for sports or other amateur purposes are allowed to fly anywhere – with the exception of restricted areas set by the directive (ie, residential and congested areas) – without obtaining flight permission. UAS falling under other categories must obtain permission from the DGCA to operate in Turkish airspace.

Accidents

Investigation

How are air accidents investigated in your jurisdiction?

The investigation of air accidents is the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications. The ministry established the Accident Investigation Board to perform this duty pursuant to the Civil Aviation Act. The board appoints an accident investigation commission composed of a sufficient number of experts (who are defined and listed in Regulation SHT-13) to investigate and inquire into the causes of the accident in conformity with the recommendations and procedures set out in International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 13. The final accident investigation report is submitted to the minister of transport, who will send copies of the report to the relevant parties, the ICAO and relevant states’ civil aviation authorities.

ICAO Annex 13 is applicable to air accidents in Turkey. Articles 10 to 17 of the Civil Aviation Act contain the provisions on air accidents and investigations and give force to a regulation on investigations of air accidents and incidents (SHY 13, in line with ICAO Annex 13).

Liability

What liability regime governs death, injury and loss arising from air accidents?

Turkey is a signatory to the Montreal Convention 1999 and the Warsaw Convention 1929. The Civil Aviation Act contains provisions in line with these conventions on the liability of the air carrier for damages to passengers, luggage and cargo. Compensation for cargo, luggage loss, damage to passengers (death and injury) and delays is subject to limitations under the conventions.

Regulatory notification

What are the reporting requirements for air accidents?

Reporting requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation under Annex 13 are applicable.

Airports

Ownership

What rules govern the ownership of airports (both public and private)?

The ownership of immovable property is governed by the Civil Act. An airport can be owned by the state, public entities or private real persons or legal entities. Airport operations are carried out under a licence obtained from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in compliance with national and international requirements for airports as provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Aviation Safety Agency. Airports must be certified by the DGCA and the requirements for airport certification are set out in Regulation SHY-14A.

Operation

What is the authorisation procedure for the operation of airports?

A person intending to build and operate an airport for general or commercial purposes must first obtain permission from the Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications. After completion of the airport’s construction, the operator must submit a plan to the DGCA containing the following information:

  • details of all airport facilities;
  • a list of trained airport personnel;
  • training and education certificates;
  • details of safety management systems; and
  • an equipment list as required by the ICAO and meeting ICAO standards and procedures.

Then DGCA and ministry experts then review this information and if all ICAO requirements are met, the airport is certified for aviation operations.

What ongoing operating requirements apply (including obligations relating to safety, security and facilities maintenance)?

See above.

Airport charges

What airport charges apply and how are they regulated?

Airports charge operators for landing, parking, navigation, slots, airport services, fuel, lighting and ground services. Airport charges are regulated through a tariff set by the Directorate General of State Airports Enterprises and approved by the Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications. Private airport operators set their own tariffs, which are also subject to the approval of the ministry.

Access

What regulations govern access to airports?

Access to airports is restricted on the grounds of safety and security considerations.

Slot allocation

What regime governs the allocation of airport slots (including slot transfer, revocation and disputes)?

Slots are allocated by a slot coordinator assigned by the DGCA. There is a detailed regulation on slot allocation which is based on (and very similar to) EU Regulation 793/2004 on the allocation of slots at EU airports.

Ground handling

How are ground handling services regulated?

Ground handling services are regulated by DGCA Regulation SHY-22.

Competition issues

Governing regime

Do any sector-specific competition regulatory/legal provisions apply to the aviation industry in your jurisdiction?

No sector-specific regulatory/legal provisions apply to the aviation sector. General competition provisions apply.

Code sharing and joint ventures

What (if any) competition concerns arise in relation to code sharing and air carrier joint ventures?

Not applicable.

State aid

What rules govern state aid in the aviation industry? Do any exemptions apply?

Not applicable.

Notable cases

Have there been any notable recent cases or rulings involving competition in the aviation industry?

No, to the best of our knowledge.

Dispute resolution

Disputes

What aviation-related disputes typically arise in your jurisdiction and how are they usually resolved?

The most typical aviation-related disputes arising in Turkey involve:

  • passengers’ claims for damaged or lost luggage, flight delays and cancellations, and denial of boarding;
  • cargo claims;
  • injury claims (although these are rare);
  • the restraint of unruly passengers;
  • unpaid maintenance and repair bills;
  • aircraft leases;
  • repossession of aircraft; and
  • termination of employment contracts.

Small claims are usually settled amicably, while larger claims are typically litigated.