Air-Rail Alliances in the Context of Liability and Environmental Protection: Selected Legal Issues
McGill GLSA Research Series, 2 (1) (2022)
17 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2022
Date Written: October 25, 2022
Since the deregulation of airlines in the 1970s and 80s the aviation industry has constantly tried to find new ways to engage with the increasingly competitive aviation market by expanding their outreach through strategic partnerships and global alliances. Over the past 10 years airlines have strengthened their partnerships with railway companies to offer more convenient connections for passengers to their hubs and link remote areas to their route network. These Air-Rail Alliances have helped airlines to stay competitive in the modern aviation market. This short paper will briefly examine two legal issues pertaining to Air-Rail Alliance namely whether an airline can be held liable in case of an accident during the train leg of the journey and how Air-Rail Alliances help airlines to meet their carbon emission reduction goals under the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and the ICAO Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Air-Rail Alliances proved to be a good vehicle for airlines to replace specific flights in their network. The paper will first explain basic terminology relating to the airline’s business before explaining the structure of Air-Rail Alliances in more detail. Afterwards, it will address the question as to whether an airline can be held liable in the case of an accident during the train leg of the journey. The paper will answer this question by arguing that airlines cannot be held liable under international aviation law but rather the train operator under the lex loci of the state in which the accident occurred. Finally, the paper will discuss the structure of both the EU ETS and CORSIA and argue that Air-Rail Alliances are a valuable tool for airlines to meet their CO2 reduction goals. It will be highlighted that both regimes are flexible and adaptive enough to take the unprecedented consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic into account and underline how the law can be adaptive in such a changing environment.
Keywords: CORSIA, EU-ETS, Aviation Law, Carbon Emissions
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation