Air Charter Brokers Targeted By DOT

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If your company has a Part 135 certificate and you use a third-party marketing organization to sell trips to the public, listen up: The U.S. Department Of Transportation (DOT) has published a notice "on the role of air charter brokers in arranging air transportation" that puts many such companies on notice that they may need to change their business practices. The notice, published in the Oct. 18 Federal Register, is designed to "provide guidance regarding the lawful role of ... entities ... that link prospective charter customers with direct air carriers." According to the notice, the DOT's Enforcement Office has "become aware" that brokers without DOT economic authority are soliciting air charter customers and then contracting directly with an air carrier to provide the transportation. The notice reminds both brokers and operators that "to hold out or otherwise engage in air transportation ... a person is required to hold economic authority from the Department of Transportation." In other words, "air charter brokers without appropriate economic authority may not hold out air transportation in their own right or enter as principals into contracts with customers to provide air transportation." Essentially, the DOT notice clarifies the department's intent with respect to regulating the ability of companies lacking formal economic authority from holding themselves out to the public as air transportation providers. Any company engaging in transactions with customers through an air charter broker would be wise to review the DOT notice and compare its standards of behavior with their own. You've been warned.