Use the Lexology Navigator tool to compare the answers in this article with those from other jurisdictions.    

Recent developments and trends

Recent developments

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

The legal framework for drones is about to be updated, with the introduction of a new EU regulation that will repeal Regulation 216/2008. In February 2018 the European Aviation Safety Agency published Opinion 01/2018, on the safe operation of small drones in the European Union. This first-ever set of EU-wide rules for civil drones will be subject to discussion by the European Commission and member states, with adoption as an EU regulation forecasted for the end of 2018.

With Decision 1584 of January 23 2018, the Italian Supreme Court affirmed that in case of flight cancellation or delayed arrival, the burden of proof lies with the air carrier. In a claim for compensation under the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation (2004/261), passengers need only prove their title (ie, the flight ticket) while the air carrier must provide evidence of the proper fulfilment of the flight obligation.

Regarding customer data protection, Italy is working on implementing the EU Passenger Name Record Directive (2016/681/EC). The directive aims at preventing, detecting and investigating terrorism and other forms of serious crime using passenger name record (PNR) data. It directs member states to collect PNR data related to reservations and the check-in process. Under the directive airlines must transfer the data collected to the designated passenger information unit in the relevant member state, which may share it with other member states and Europol. Data will be ‘depersonalised’ after six months and held for five years.    

Regulatory framework

Domestic law

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

The primary domestic legislation governing the aviation industry in Italy is the Navigation Code (Royal Decree 327/1942). The Navigation Code deals with the main civil, administrative, criminal and procedural aspects of the aviation sector, including the ownership and use of aircraft, the management of airports, air transport and ground handling services and all connected duties and liabilities. Significant amendments to the Navigation Code were made in 2005 and 2006.

Relevant aviation rules are also set forth in regulations, circulars, guidelines and recommendations issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC), as well as in EU regulations, which are self-executing and prevail on any conflicting domestic legislation (eg, Regulation 2008/216).

International law

What international aviation agreements has your jurisdiction concluded?

Aviation is characterised by the simultaneous involvement of different jurisdictions that potentially govern the same matter. In order to avoid conflicts of law, governments have been seeking uniformity by means of conventions and treaties. Italy has signed and implemented several international agreements related to the aviation sector, including:

  • the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation;
  • the Geneva Convention on International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft;
  • the Rome Convention on Damage Caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface; and
  • the Montreal Convention.

In international scenarios, EU law must also be considered. This includes both directives (which must be transposed into domestic legislation) and regulations (which are self-executing and prevail on any conflicting domestic legislation).    

Regulatory authorities

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

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport oversees the general administration of the aviation industry. The ministry directs, supervises and controls ENAC, which is competent for the operative tasks of technical regulation, certification, management and control of air transport. ENAC was established by Article 687 of the Navigation Code and Legislative Decree 250/1997 and represents Italy in international civil aviation organisations.

Other relevant bodies in the aviation industry are navigation service provider ENAV, a government-owned company responsible for managing air traffic services across Italy, and the National Agency for the Safety of Flight, which is charged with the supervision of safety and accidents in civil aviation.

Air carrier operations

Operating authorisation

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

Under Article 778 of the Navigation Code, air carriers must:

  • be companies located in Italy whose effective control is owned directly or through majority ownership by member states or citizens of member states;
  • carry out as their main business the activity of air transport, either alone or combined with any other commercial activity in the sector of operation, repair or maintenance of aircraft;
  • own a valid certificate of airworthiness issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC);
  • own or lease (ie, under a dry lease) one or more aircraft, as provided by Article 4 of Circular EAL-16A, enacted by ENAC on December 23 2015;
  • ensure that the people in charge of such key functions as administration, finance and marketing meet certain professional requirements;
  • provide satisfactory evidence of meeting the administrative, financial and insurance requirements of EU Regulation 1008/2008 and EU Regulation 785/2004, as amended by Regulation 285/2010; and
  • ensure that the top management meet certain honourability requirements and have not been declared bankrupt.

Ownership and control

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

In order to qualify for an EU licence, Article 4 of EU Regulation 1008/2008 requires airlines to:

  • have their principal place of business in an EU member state;
  • be principally engaged in air transport activities;
  • be at least 50% owned – directly or indirectly – and effectively controlled by an EU member state or nationals of an EU member state; and
  • be managed by persons of good reputation.

Pursuant to Article 8 of the regulation, airlines must be able to demonstrate to the competent licensing authority that they meet the above requirements for a licence at all times.

Financial requirements

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

According to ENAC Circular EAL-16A of December 23 2015, air carriers must be able to meet their current and potential obligations on the basis of realistic assumptions for 24 months after obtaining an operating authorisation. Air carriers must comply with certain reporting requirements towards ENAC, concerning issues that include:

  • extraordinary corporate transactions;
  • changes in the shareholder structure; and
  • material changes in their operational business plan (eg, changes in the type of aircraft used).

Following review of the information received, ENAC may decide to confirm, suspend or revoke the operating authorisation or to grant a provisional authorisation with a 12-month duration.

Insurance coverage

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

Insurance for hull risk, hull war risk and liability for damage incurred by crew and passengers is mandatory (Articles 935 and 942 of the Navigation Code). Moreover, on December 21 2011 ENAC issued Circular EAL-17-A, implementing EU Regulation 785/2004 and EU Regulation 285/2010 on insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators.

Under Circular EAL-17-A, air carriers must comply with the following minimum coverage requirements:

  • 250,000 special drawing rights per passenger;
  • 1,131 special drawing rights per passenger for baggage; and
  • 19 special drawing rights per kilogram for cargo.

Safety requirements

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

ENAC applies international rules governing the maintenance of aircraft (eg, European Aviation Safety Agency Regulations Part 145 and EU Regulation 3922/91), as well as all EU regulations, including:

  • EU Regulation 748/2012, laying down implementation rules for the airworthiness and environmental certification of aircraft and related products, parts and appliances, as well as for the certification of design and production organisations; and
  • EU Regulation 1321/2014, on the continuing airworthiness of aircraft and aeronautical products, parts and appliances, and on the approval of organisations and personnel involved in these tasks.

Environmental obligations

What environmental obligations apply to air carrier operations?

The parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol have undertaken to control and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. In order to meet its obligations under international law, the European Union enacted the EU emissions trading system (ETS) through the EU Emissions Trading Scheme Directive (2003/87/EC), which applied from January 1 2005.

The EU Aviation Emissions Trading Scheme Directive (2008/101/EC) extended the scope of the ETS to aviation activities. All flights arriving at or departing from airports situated in an EU member state are generally covered by the ETS. The aircraft operators are listed in EU Regulation 748/2009, as amended. The Aviation Emissions Trading Scheme Directive has been implemented into Italian law by Legislative Decree 257/2010. Under the directive, each aircraft operator must surrender a number of allowances equal to the total emissions produced, duly notified and certified during the preceding calendar year from its aviation activities by April 30 each year. Administrative penalties up to interdiction at EU level apply to air carriers that breach these obligations.

For each year of the current trading period (ie, 2013 to 2020), this quantity is reduced to the equivalent of 95% of historical aviation emissions. As a consequence of the reduction of the total quantity of allowances, the number of allowances to be allocated free of charge to aircraft operators will be equally reduced. In the current trading period this accounts for 82% of all allowances allocated, with 3% being held in a special reserve for fast-growing aircraft operators and new entrants in the market. The applicable reference parameter for the allocation of allowances free of charge for the period from January 1 2013 to December 31 2020 is 0.000642186914222035 allowances per ton-kilometre. The percentage of allowances auctioned in the current trading period is equal to 15% of all allowances allocated.

In order to tackle the structural supply-demand imbalances that are expected to continue, the Environment Commission of the European Parliament has approved the introduction of a market-stability reserve relating to all carbon markets, which should be established in 2018 and should be operational from January 1 2019.

Air traffic control

How are air traffic control services regulated in your jurisdiction?

ENAV is the Italian company in charge of controlling and supporting air traffic. ENAV’s remit is to:

  • allow aircraft to fly within the assigned airspace with constantly enhanced levels of safety, optimising the effectiveness of the service provided and the efficiency of the company;
  • handle the airspace safely and consistently, guaranteeing operational continuity and regularity;
  • manage air space and air traffic; and
  • provide air traffic services (ATS).

ATS are intended to:

  • prevent collisions between aircraft;
  • prevent collisions between aircraft in the manoeuvring area and obstructions in such area;
  • expedite and maintain an orderly flow of air traffic;
  • provide advice and information useful for the safe and efficient conduct of flights; and
  • notify appropriate organisations regarding aircraft in need of search and rescue aid, and assist such organisations when required.

Routes

Do any licensing requirements apply to specific routes?

Under Article 15 of EU Regulation 1008/2008, no permit or authorisation by an EU member state is required for the operation of intra-community air services by EU-licensed air carriers. The air carrier can therefore exercise traffic rights within the European Economic Area to any destination for both scheduled and chartered flights.

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

According to Article 782 of the Navigation Code, as amended by Legislative Decree 96/2005 and Legislative Decree 151/2006, the government may impose public service obligations to guarantee the right of mobility provided by Article 16 of the Italian Constitution. Article 782 of the Navigation Code complies with EU Regulation 1008/2008 and EU Regulation 95/1993, as amended by EU Regulation 793/04.

The government may impose public service obligations in respect of domestic scheduled air services serving a peripheral or developing region or on a thin route to any regional airport, when such route is considered vital for the economic development of the region in which the airport is located. The Italian government imposes public service obligations to and from Sicily and Sardinia.

Charter services

Do any special provisions apply to charter services?

Non-EEA charter carriers must apply for entry permission if they wish to fly to Italy. ENAC is responsible for regulating the services of non-scheduled air transport under a regulation enacted on December 21 2015. The permit can be obtained for a single flight or for several flights. The permit is granted only if the home country of the charter carrier grants entry permissions to Italian charter carriers in the same way (ie, under the reciprocity principle). ENAC requires non-EU carriers to meet technical requirements and administrative provisions, including those relating to the prevention of attacks against civil aviation under Article 787 of the Navigation Code.

Taxes

What taxes apply to the provision of air carrier services?

Under Law 324/1976, air traffic is subject to the following taxes:

  • landing and take-off fees, based on the weight of the aircraft;
  • stopping fees, based on the weight of the aircraft and the ground time; and
  • passenger boarding fees, based on the number of passengers boarded. Passengers who transit because of a stopover are exempt. Children under two years old are exempt. Children from two to 12 years old are subject to a 50% fee reduction. This fee is subject to value added tax at the time of the recourse to the passenger.

The measure of airport fees may be revised every year based on the pricing policy of the sector and changes to costs.

Consumer protection and liability

Airfares

Are airfares regulated in your jurisdiction?

Airlines are free to define their fares, under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) and the Competition Authority (AGCM). Pursuant to EU Regulation 1008/2008, fares must be all inclusive and detail their components (eg, airfares, taxes and airport charges).

Regarding unfair commercial practices, Articles 20 to 23 of the Consumer Code (Legislative Decree 206/2005) apply. In case of infringement of the Consumer Code, airlines can undergo legal proceedings before the AGCM.

Passenger protection

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

(a) Flight delays and cancellations?

EU Regulation 161/2004 provides for three classes of delay, as follows:

  • Delay beyond the scheduled time of departure of two to four hours (ie, to be specified in consideration of the air route) – passengers have the right to be assisted in terms of:
    • food and beverages;
    • overnight accommodation;
    • transfers, if required; and
    • calls, messages and emails;
  • Delay beyond the scheduled time of departure of longer than five hours – passengers have the right to be assisted as above, plus the right to request ticket reimbursement and compensation of:
    • €250 for flights of 1,500 kilometres or less;
    • €400 for EU flights of longer than 1,500 kilometres or international flights of between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres; and
    • €600 for international flights of more than 3,500 kilometres; and
  • Delay beyond scheduled time of arrival of longer than three hours – passengers have the right to be assisted and compensated as above.

Compensation is excluded if the delay occurs due to exceptional circumstances.

In case of flight cancellation, the passenger may choose between allocation on a different flight or ticket reimbursement. In any case, the passenger is entitled to assistance in terms of:

  • food and beverages;
  • overnight accommodation;
  • transfers, if required; and
  • calls, messages and emails.

Further, if the cancellation is not due to exceptional circumstances, the passenger has the right to obtain compensation as provided above.

(b) Oversold flights?

According to EU Regulation 161/2004, in case of oversold flights passengers may voluntarily renounce to board against the payment of an indemnity. If no passenger agrees to renounce boarding, the airline may deny boarding.

(c) Denied boarding?

According to EU Regulation 161/2004, passengers that are ‘rejected’ acquire the right to assistance and compensation. Further, passengers may choose between allocation on a different flight or ticket reimbursement.

(d) Access for disabled passengers?

EU Regulation 1107/2006 establishes the duties that airlines and airport managers must observe when dealing with disabled passengers. Denial is accepted only for safety reasons or if the dimension of the aircraft or its doors make boarding impossible. The airline must inform the disabled passenger of its security policy and it may require the disabled passenger to be assisted by a carer, if necessary. A disabled passenger is authorised to carry on board:

  • an ‘assistance dog’;
  • medical devices; and
  • up to two mobility devices.

(e) Lost, damaged or destroyed luggage?

According to EU Regulation 889/2002, in case of loss of checked-in luggage the passenger must fill out a property irregularity report (PIR) at the lost-and-found desk before leaving the baggage-claim area of the airport. If no luggage has been found 21 days after the claim, the passenger may claim compensation. If the luggage is found, the passenger may claim compensation for any unavoidable expenditures incurred in the meanwhile.

If any luggage is damaged, the passenger seeking compensation must still fill in a PIR, specifying the damage, and send all documentation to the airline’s customer services or luggage assistance office within seven days of arrival. Without prejudice to any insurance bought by the passenger, the compensation ceiling is set at:

  • 1,000 special drawing rights per passenger for airlines based in countries that are signatories of the Montreal Convention; and
  • 17 special drawing rights per kilo for airlines based in countries that are signatories of the Warsaw Convention.

(f) Retention and protection of passenger data?

Passenger data is protected under the Privacy Code (Legislative Decree 196/2003). Moreover, in April 2016 the European Parliament adopted the EU Passenger Name Record Directive (2016/681/EC), which governs the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crimes. Airlines must transfer PNR data collected in the course of their business to member states, with the possibility of their exchange among member states and Europol. PNR data must be deleted after five years.

Cargo

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

Special limits are provided for the carriage of dangerous goods. In this respect, for the purposes of the implementation of Annex 18 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Convention, ENAC issued a regulation concerning the transport of dangerous goods by air. The ICAO provides a list of dangerous goods, with a distinction between goods whose carriage is always forbidden and goods whose carriage may be authorised by the national competent authority (ie, ENAC), subject to emergency or other exceptional conditions. The liability for air carriage of cargo is governed by the Montreal Convention or the Warsaw Convention, as applicable.

Marketing and advertising

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

Misleading advertising relating to flights is covered by Law-Decree 7/2007, which obliges airlines to offer and advertise flights that clearly indicate:

  • the full price (including expenses, taxes and other additional charges);
  • the price of a return ticket; and
  • the terms of validity.

Messages that breach the above obligations can be penalised by the AGCM as unfair commercial practices pursuant to Article 27 of the Consumer Code, subject to a €5,000 to €500,000 fine.

Complaints handling

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

Passengers may file a complaint against the airline, attaching the flight ticket and the receipts of any expenditure incurred. If an answer is not given within six weeks, a complaint can be filed with ENAC. The results of ENAC’s investigation will be communicated to the complaining passenger, who may use them in legal proceedings. ENAC may also penalise the airline.

Aircraft

Aircraft register

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

An aircraft must be registered in the National Aircraft Registry pursuant to the Navigation Code (ie, Articles 687 and following) and the Civil Code (ie, Articles 2643 and following on mandatory registration). The registration must be done with the Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC), which issues the registration certificate. The registering person or entity is usually the owner; in order to qualify, the registrant must reside in Italy or in another EU member state and have obtained a certificate of airworthiness.

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?

Only voluntary (ie, not judiciary) mortgages may be registered on an aircraft in Italy. The mortgage must be:

  • filed with a notarial deed or private deed enlisting all the specific elements of individualisation of the aircraft; and
  • registered in the National Aircraft Registry held by ENAC, with a relevant annotation on the registration certificate.

The mortgage will be perfected with the annotation on the registration certificate of the aircraft. It will cover the aircraft, together with its engines and spare parts; these will be covered even if not attached to the aircraft, provided that they belong to the same owner as the aircraft.

A registered aircraft mortgage is second only to:

  • special liens recognised by the Navigation Code;
  • credits of the employers; and
  • certain indemnities for damages and insurance for responsibility vis-à-vis third parties.

This is all regulated by Articles 1027 to 1037 of the Navigation Code.

Detention

What rules and procedures govern the detention of aircraft?

Articles 1055 and following of the Navigation Code, in connection with Articles 474 and following of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure, regulate:

  • the judicial or cautionary seizure of aircraft;
  • the attachment of aircraft;
  • the administrative custody of aircraft; and
  • the detention of aircraft for bankruptcy procedures (including the forced sale of the aircraft).

Safety and maintenance

What rules and procedures govern aircraft safety and maintenance?

International treaties, EU laws and domestic regulations govern Italian aircraft safety and maintenance. ENAC plays a major role, and is entitled to issue technical regulations implementing the international standards.

The main regulations on aircraft safety are:

  • the Chicago Convention. The International Civil Aviation Organisation annexes to the Chicago Convention are implemented by technical regulations issued by ENAC;
  • EU laws (eg, Regulation 216/2008); and
  • the Navigation Code and Legislative Decree 250/1997 (which establishes the ENAC).

Based on the EU Ramp Inspection Programme, ENAC has developed an additional plan of random ramp inspections called Safety Assessment of National Aircrafts (SANA). SANA inspections are carried out on aircraft operated by Italian carriers in order to verify and monitor their safety conditions.

With reference to aircraft maintenance, Italy applies the standards and procedures laid down in EU Regulation 1321/2014. The entities involved in maintenance activities must be approved by ENAC.

Drones

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

EU Regulation 216/2008 and ENAC’s Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicles Regulation, issued on July 16 2015, govern drones. Drones that are classified as remotely piloted aircraft systems (SAPRs) (ie, to be used for special operations or in R&D activities) are also subject to the Navigation Code, while ‘model aircraft’ (ie, to be used only for recreational and sport purposes) are exempt from the Navigation Code.

ENAC classifies SAPRs according to the maximum take-off weight:

  • SAPRs with a maximum take-off weight of less than 25 kilograms must be identified by a plate and an electronic identification device and pilots must obtain a pilot’s certificate.
  • SAPRs with a maximum take-off weight of 25 to 150 kilograms must be registered with the Registry of Remotely Piloted Aircraft and authorised with a flight permit. Pilots must obtain a pilot’s licence.

A flight manual and third-party insurance are mandatory in all cases.

Flight operations are classified based on the possibility for the remote pilot to maintain continual visual control of the SAPR – using the terminology ‘visual line of sight’ (VLOS) and ‘beyond line of sight’. Another relevant distinction is between ‘critical’ special operations (ie, VLOS flight operations that do not overfly congested areas, gatherings of persons, urban areas or critical infrastructures – even in case of malfunction or failure), which require only an online compliance declaration, and ‘non-critical’ special operations, which must be authorised by ENAC. Authorisation is also mandatory for R&D activities.

The regulation of drones will be updated by a new EU regulation that will replace Regulation 216/2008. On February 2018 the European Aviation Safety Agency published Opinion 01/2018 on safe operations for small drones in the European Union. This first-ever set of EU-wide rules for civil drones will be subject to discussion by the European Commission and member states, with adoption as an EU regulation forecasted for the end of 2018.

Accidents

Investigation

How are air accidents investigated in your jurisdiction?

According to EU Regulation 996/2010, whenever an accident occurs a safety investigation must be carried out in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. Should it be impossible to locate the accident, the investigation will be conducted under the authority of the member state of registration. In Italy the competent authority is the National Agency for the Safety of Flight (ANSV).

According to the Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) regulation for the construction and management of airports, specific rules may apply in the event of accidents with reference to airport operations. For example, airports’ service providers must identify suitable premises to be used as emergency operations centres; these must be made promptly accessible whenever an emergency occurs.

Liability

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

Under the Montreal Convention and EU Regulation 889/2002, airlines are subject to unlimited civil liability in case of death or injury occurring to passengers. A legal proceeding against the airline must be initiated within two years. Meanwhile, victims may apply for advance payment of damages.

Regulatory notification

What are the reporting requirements for air accidents?

Pursuant to EU Regulation 996/2010 the information contained in reports issued within safety investigation procedures is confidential, unless national judicial authorities decide otherwise.

ANSV reports must be notified to the airline, the European Aviation Safety Agency and ENAC, for the adoption of all measures necessary to prevent future accidents.

Further, the ANSV may be authorised to disclose information relating to safety investigations to victims and their relatives.

Airports

Ownership

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

Ownership of airports is principally regulated by:

  • the Navigation Code (Royal Decree 327/1942), as amended by Legislative Decree 96/2005 regarding the aeronautical section; and
  • the Civil Code. 

State-owned airports are part of the state civil aeronautical property and are thus regulated by different rules from those concerning private property (ie, the infrastructure and assets are inalienable and cannot be the subject of rights in favour of third parties).

Pursuant to Article 692 of the Navigation Code, the state civil aeronautical property comprises airports belonging to the state and any buildings or plant belonging to the state that are instrumental to the air navigation service. Military airports are part of the state military aeronautical property.

The government assigns state-owned airports and related assets to the Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC), which subsequently assigns them in concession, following a public procurement procedure, to an airport operator.

Ownership of private airports is regulated by the rules on private property provided in Article 832 and following of the Civil Code. However, under Article 694 of the Navigation Code, the realisation and expansion of private airports must be authorised by ENAC.

Operation

What is the authorisation procedure for the operation of airports?

The authorisation procedure for the operation of airports is regulated by Article 704 of the Navigation Code, together with the relevant ministerial decree.

A concession for airport management is adopted at the end of a public procurement procedure held in accordance with the EU Utilities Directive (2014/25/EU) and the Public Procurement Code (Legislative Decree 50/2016).

The grant of a concession is subject to the signing of a contract between the airport operator and ENAC, in compliance with the directives issued by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.

Within six months before the end of the first financial year following grant of the concession, ENAC and the airport operator must also sign a programme contract incorporating the airport regulations issued by the Italian Inter-ministerial Economic Committee regarding investments, fees and quality, as well as those provided by Law 248/2005, regarding fiscal matters.

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

In terms of general obligations, under Article 705 of the Navigation Code the airport operator must:

  • ensure compliance with the obligations assumed with the concession contract and the programme contract;
  • organise airport activities in order to guarantee the efficient and optimal use of resources for the provision of activities and services of adequate quality;
  • ensure the presence of the necessary ground handling services;
  • assign aircraft parking areas and ensure the orderly movement of other vehicles and personnel on the aprons;
  • verify compliance with airport regulations by private operators providing airport services;
  • propose to ENAC the penalties envisaged for non-observance of the airport’s conditions of use;
  • draw up a service charter in compliance with the directives issued by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and ENAC, and ensure compliance with the quality levels indicated in it; and
  • ensure security checks on passengers, baggage and goods in accordance with the provisions in force, as well as the management of lost property.

As for specific obligations, all airport operators must adopt, maintain and implement an airport security programme, under the supervision of ENAC. This programme must describe the methods and procedures that the airport operator must follow in order to comply with the requirements of:

  • EU Regulation 300/2008, on common rules in the field of civil aviation security;
  • EU Regulation 185/2010, laying down detailed measures for the implementation of the common basic standards on aviation security; and
  • the National Civil Aviation Security Programme.

Regarding airport safety, the ENAC Regulation for the Construction and Operation of Airports requires the adoption of a safety management system by the airport operator. Its purpose is to:

  • ensure that airport operations are carried out in accordance with pre-established safety conditions; and
  • assess the effectiveness of the system in order to correct any deviations.

Airport maintenance obligations and other specific obligations (eg, security and safety obligations) are set by ENAC within the programme contract with the airport operator. In particular, the programme contract imposes a four-year plan for identifying the required interventions for the modernisation, expansion and development of airport infrastructure and facilities.

Airport charges

What airport charges apply and how are they regulated?

Law Decree 1/2012, implementing EU Directive 2009/12/EC, regulates airport charges. The law basically requires the establishment of a supervisory authority in charge of adopting tariff models based on annual registered passenger traffic, in order to ensure that charges applied to airport users comply with the principles of:

  • correlation to costs;
  • transparency;
  • reasonableness;
  • non-discrimination; and
  • consultation of airport users.

Resolution 92/2017 of the Transport Authority provides for three different tariff models divided in accordance with annual passenger traffic – namely:

  • above five million;
  • between three and five million; and
  • below three million.

The airport manager will determine the applicable charges on the basis of these tariff models.

Access

What regulations govern access to airports?

Access to airports is regulated by:

  • Articles 687, 718, 1174 and 1235 of the Navigation Code;
  • the National Civil Aviation Security Programme, adopted, implemented and updated by ENAC pursuant to Articles 10 and 11 of EU Regulation 300/2008; and
  • specific ordinances and resolutions issued by ENAC.

Slot allocation

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

EU Regulation 793/2004 provides the common rules for the allocation of slots at EU airports.

Legislative Decree 172/2007 provides for a regime of penalties relating to slot allocation.

Ground handling

How are ground handling services regulated?

Ground handling services are regulated by Legislative Decree 18/99, which implement EU Directive 96/97/EC.

Competition issues

Governing regime

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

No sector-specific regulatory or legal provisions apply to the aviation industry in Italy. General EU and national competition provisions apply, largely embodied in Law 287/1990.

Code sharing and joint ventures

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

Code-sharing agreements and air carrier joint ventures may give rise to competition concerns with reference to:

  • anti-competitive agreements, prohibited by Article 2 of the Competition Law (Law 287/1990); and
  • abuses of dominant position, prohibited by Article 3 of the Competition Law.

The above practices will most likely fall within the scope of Article 2, especially when they aim at price fixing, market partitioning and capacity limiting.

State aid

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

State aid in the aviation industry is governed by EU legislation.

Primary state aid legislation is provided by Articles 107 to 109 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, while secondary legislation is typically enshrined in the guidelines of the European Commission – specifically, the Guidelines on State Aid to Airports and Airlines (2014/C 99/03).

In 2012 the Italian government adopted Law 234/2012 providing complementary procedural rules regulating the national aspects of the EU state aid policy.

Notable cases

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

A recent case concerned the alleged abuse of a dominant market position by ground handling services in Bergamo Airport. The case has been closed with commitments (A507 – Servizio Rifornimento Carburante Avio Aeroporto di Bergamo).

The Competition Authority has previously carried out investigations and fined airport managers for abuse of dominant position in relation to fares for ground handling services in:

  • A377 – Sea-Tariffe Aeroportuali;
  • A376 – Aeroporto di Roma-Tariffe Aeroportuali;
  • A247 – ADR/Tariffe del Groundhandling; and
  • A56 – Societa' per Azioni Esercizi Aeroportuali.

Dispute resolution

Disputes

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

In case of misleading advertising related to flight offers, proceedings may be started by the Competition Authority, on its own initiative or following customers’ reports.

In case of accidents, judicial proceedings to address civil liability may be started by the injured passenger or a relative. In claims for accidents not exceeding €50,000 in damages, before starting the legal proceedings the parties are requested to negotiate an amicable solution to the dispute (ie, with the assistance of their attorneys).

Further, in Italy, several aircraft operator companies have been subject to pre-insolvency or insolvency procedures (eg, extraordinary administration and arrangement with creditors procedures). As a consequence, there are many judicial proceedings which are related to the distressed position of aircraft operators, including:

  • claims filed by the creditors of such companies to recover their debts;
  • clawback actions; and
  • claims filed by the employees in connection with reorganisation of the human resources chart or corporate structure.