Federal court upholds legality of New York’s airline passenger “Bill of Rights”

Air Transport Association of America, Inc. v. Andrew Cuomo et al. (N.D.N.Y. Dec. 20, 2007).  In a decision issued yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York denied the Air Transport Association’s motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of New York’s airline passenger “Bill of Rights.”  Instead, the court granted summary judgment for the State of New York, thereby concluding the case in the State’s favor.

The court held that the Bill of Rights is not preempted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act, which preempts state laws related to the “service” provided by airlines.  The court reasoned that “the provision of fresh air, water, food and lavatory access to passengers trapped for hours on a motionless plane is a health and safety issue” that has no bearing on the “service” provided by airlines.  (I disagree, for the reasons discussed here, but my vote does not count!)

The Bill of Rights will go into effect on January 1, 2008, but it is unlikely that the ground delay battle is over.  The ATA will probably file an appeal, and I will report any further developments in this matter.

Update:  The ATA did file an appeal, and on March 25, 2008, the Second Circuit issued a ruling, which is summarized here, reversing the trial court’s decision on the grounds that the Bill of Rights is preempted by the ADA.

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