Black market air charter is alive and well in Europe, the Middle East – and the U.S.A. How do we stop it?
Private operators posing as commercial charter providers in Europe, North America, and the Middle East are soliciting money from the “ignorant public” and, certificated operators claim, are endangering their passengers while creating unfair competition for the legitimate, rules-abiding members of the industry.
The problem is exacerbated by a dearth of government scrutiny and regulatory enforcement. As a result, it is difficult to positively identify violators, quantify the amount of illegal charter taking place, or accurately determine how widely spread the activity is. So far, the most effective vehicle for ferreting out illegal operators is observation by the legitimate, law-abiding ones. Nothing gets ones attention like a thief with his hand on your wallet.
In the United States, an Illegal Charter Hotline is maintained by NATA for reporting suspected violators — the tips are turned over to thefor investigation. However, no such mechanism yet exists in Europe to spotlight illegal activity. Furthermore, a confusing tangle of regulations among individual European countries, even the 27 nations comprising the European Union, complicates oversight and enforcement. What action exists in curbing illegal chartering thus falls to aviation advocacy organizations like NATA and the NBAA in the United States and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). Recently, the EBAA assumed the mission of educating European air charter users to the hazards of flying on non-qualifying aircraft fielded by bogus commercial operators.