Europe to get new offshore register

 - October 2, 2006, 4:42 AM

The Isle of Man, a UK Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea, hopes to have its own aircraft register established by the end of next year. The island will operate the new register in parallel with the UK’s “G” register and market it as an additional benefit to individuals and companies seeking to benefit from the island’s fiscal and legal jurisdiction.

According to a spokesman, last year the trade and industry department of the Isle of Man reached an agreement in principle for the register with the UK transport department. It is now recruiting a director of civil aviation, whose first responsibility will be to complete detailed negotiations with UK authorities.

Changes in UK legislation would be required to create the register, which would, for all intents and purposes, be a second UK register. The Isle of Man’s new civil aviation authority will administer the register. The agency will also be responsible for auditing aircraft.

A Convenience for EU Ops

The government of the Isle of Man has insisted that its proposed register will adhere to full European Aviation Safety Agency technical and operational requirements. Initially, the register will be open only to aircraft operated under private rules, but eventually it might also be offered to commercial operators.

The government spokesman explained that the register is intended for aircraft owners who want to benefit from the favorable business and financial conditions the island offers, rather than those who are looking to cut corners on the condition of their aircraft or the terms under which they are operated. The Isle of Man is preparing to introduce zero-rated corporation tax for all companies except banks. This is part of its strategy to diversify the island’s economy and add to the increasing number of high-technology businesses based there.

Unlike some other offshore jurisdictions, the island’s legal system is based on common law. For European companies that need to meet the legal requirement to hold board meetings of offshore-based subsidiaries in the place where they are registered, the Isle of Man is more convenient than various Atlantic and Caribbean islands.

In the early 1990s the Isle of Man established its own shipping register and this now includes more than 400 vessels, including a couple of dozen large private yachts. Among Class I shipping registers, the Isle of Man is now ranked second only to Germany (and ahead of both the U.S. and UK) in quality of jurisdiction. This is according to the most recent “Paris memorandum of understanding” on the control of shipping registers.