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Judicialization of the airline sector in Brazil – ANAC and Public Ministry sign agreement

Judicialization in the airline sector in Brazil, ANAC and Public Ministry sign agreement

An airplane is subject to various conditions that can delay or cancel a flight, whether due to weather conditions where there is no ceiling for takeoff, due to a breakdown or other factors.

For the layman in the field, an airplane is like a car, there are breakdowns where the car runs and there are breakdowns where the car doesn't run.

In aviation things are different, there are problems where the plane can fly, but it cannot fly because it will compromise the flight. An example, an anti-ice failure, which prevents ice from forming on the plane's wings. If the weather conditions during the flight create ice on the wings, the plane cannot fly. There are several breakdowns that the plane can fly into without compromising the flight.

In this case, it issues a MEL “Minimum Equipment List”, a list of the minimum equipment that an aircraft can use for a flight” which is determined by the aircraft manufacturer with analysis of weather conditions and others.

In this case, as they say in mechanics' slang, put a MEL and leave.

And there are problems where the plane cannot fly regardless of weather conditions.

There is also the factor of an airport closing due to weather conditions or due to an accident or incident that closed the runway, in which case the aircraft has to switch to another airport.

In each case, the airline decides whether the flight continues on the same day or whether they will accommodate passengers in hotels.

It may also happen if there are problems at the airport, such as a system breakdown.

With this scenario, the number of cases skyrocketed

Brazil currently faces around 90% of the world's airline lawsuits, accounting for 2,7% of all flights in the world. From 2018 to 2019, aviation added 20% of travelers, while legal actions grew by 109% in the same period.

In 2022, these numbers tripled since 2019, with an exponential growth of an industry that uses the judicial system, which also has a lot to do with the issue of digitalization, precisely because many of them are digital platforms, applications, which attract customers with the aim of judicialization

In an interview with CNN, Jhon Rodgerson said that in Goiás there are lawyers buying powers of attorney for passengers, “many of them don't even know that they are activating the airline”, according to the CEO of Azul.

There are cases where lawsuits are legitimate if the airline does not serve its customer in accordance with their rights, such as cases such as unresolved lost luggage. Overbooking, when more tickets are sold than the number of seats available on that flight and cannot be accommodated on another flight.

If the flight was canceled or changed and they left the passenger at the airport all night without offering a hotel or during the day without offering food.

Cooperation agreement between ANAC and the National Council of the Public Ministry (CNMP)

On Wednesday, May 15, a technical cooperation agreement was signed between the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) and the National Council of the Public Ministry (CNMP). The objective is to foster the partnership between the two institutions in the exchange of knowledge, information and experiences for the development of joint actions aimed at improving consumer relations in the civil aviation sector.

The document was signed during the seminar “The contemporary challenges of consumer rights and the regulation of civil aviation”, held by the National Training Unit (UNCMP) of the CNMP and the Escola Superior do Ministério Público de São Paulo (ESMPSP).

Based on this partnership, a course on the regulation of consumer relations in the airline sector will also be developed, with the target audience being members of the Public Ministry across the country.

ANAC director Ricardo Catanant highlighted that the Agency will work together with the Public Ministry to protect consumers in relation to air transport services. The director pointed out during the seminar that the issue of high levels of judicialization observed in the Brazilian airline sector is worrying, not only because it adds costs to the sector, but also because of the negative impact on attracting new companies to Brazil.

The public prosecutor of the Public Ministry of the State of São Paulo, Ana Beatriz Pereira de Souza Frontini, highlighted that judicialization is not always the best way to resolve consumer conflicts. For the promoter, the route of “agreement and dialogue is often more fruitful for the consumer, because they see their situation resolved at that very moment”. 

The prosecutor and president of the Association of Consumer Public Ministries (MPCON), Luiz Eduardo Lemos de Almeida, reported experiences of working in partnership between the Public Ministry and ANAC and highlighted the relevance of cooperation between the two institutions in the search for solutions to conflicts of consumption. He also highlighted the need for an effective communication channel between the two institutions in collaboration to solve problems faced by prosecutors who are in the interior of the country and face greater difficulties in communicating with federal regulatory agencies.

For advisor Paulo Cezar dos Passos, president of UNCMP, it is very important to bring the bodies together in solutions and improvements in the airline sector. Passos emphasized that the partnership will promote greater legal security for all actors involved, whether in the economic sector or for consumers themselves.

In the end, a solution is expected as these costs are paid by the passenger as they are passed on to the final cost of the air ticket.

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