Worried about the potential use of flight cost-sharing apps as a platform for illegal air charter, the Baltic Air Charter Association (BACA) is seeking an “urgent review” of regulations that currently permit such cost-sharing. The association wants global regulatory authorities to work together with the industry to develop standards that “maximize safety and security on all cost-sharing flights.”
According to BACA, the practice is growing with the launch of several flight cost-sharing apps in Europe, including Skyüber, Wingly and FlightClub. For now, the FAA has not approved use of such apps in the U.S., though some app makers have filed suit against the agency over its position.
“We fully embrace innovation in the market and new tools that improve the flying public’s access to and appetite for flight,” BACA said. “However, while genuine cost sharing on private flights is legal, all commercial charter flights must be undertaken by an air carrier that holds an air operator certificate (AOC), which permits a charter for hire and reward. BACA is concerned that, without proper regulation, commercial flights will be flown without an AOC, thus compromising flight legality and safety.”
The association reiterated the reasons that it is illegal to fly commercial flights using a private license. “AOC holders are subject to enhanced levels of flight maintenance, safety and crew experience that are designed to protect flying customers and the general safety of the public,” BACA said. “If these rules can be circumvented simply by characterizing flights as private cost-shares, then that calls into question the integrity of the regulatory regime.”
The association contends that current regulations are not entirely clear in this area and are thus creating a market for these new business structures. Because of this, it wants an industry-wide review “to clarify the regulations and place passenger safety and security as the key priority.” In fact, BACA has already reached out to several industry organizations and regulatory bodies to discuss and review the practice of private flight cost-sharing.