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Notice

Agency Request for Renewal of a Previously Approved Collection; Disclosure of Code Sharing Arrangements and Long-Term Wet Leases

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AGENCY:

Office of the Secretary.

ACTION:

Notice and request for comments.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Transportation (DOT) invites public comments about our intention to request the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval to renew an information collection. We are required to publish this notice in the Federal Register by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13.

DATES:

Written comments should be submitted by November 15, 2011.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments (identified by DOT Docket Number OST-2011-0170) through one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
  • Mail or Hand Delivery: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on Federal Holidays.
Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Aleta Best, (202) 493-0797, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

OMB Control Number: 2105-0537.

Title: Disclosure of Code Sharing Arrangements and Long-Term Wet Leases.

Type of Review: Renewal of an information collection.

Abstract: Codesharing is the name given to a common airline industry marketing practice where, by mutual agreement between cooperating carriers, at least one of the airline designator codes used on a flight is different from that of the airline operating the aircraft. In one version, two or more airlines each use their own designator codes on the same aircraft operation. Although only one airline operates the flight, each airline in a codesharing arrangement may hold out, market, and sell the flight as its own in published schedules. Codesharing also refers to other arrangements, such as when a code on a passenger's ticket is not that of the operator of the flight, but where the operator does not also hold out the service in its own name. Such codesharing arrangements are common between commuter air carriers and their larger affiliates, and the number of arrangements between U.S. air carriers and foreign air carriers has also been increasing. Arrangements falling into this category are similar to leases of aircraft with crew (wet leases).

The Department recognizes the strong preference of air travelers for on-line service (service by a single carrier) on connecting flights over interline service (service by multiple carriers). Codesharing arrangements are, in part, a marketing response to this demand for on-line service. Often, codesharing partners offer services similar to those available for on-line connections with the goal of offering “seamless” service (i.e., service where the transfers from flight to flight or airline to airline are facilitated). For example, they may locate gates near each other to make connections more convenient or coordinate baggage handling to give greater assurance that baggage will be properly handled.

Codesharing arrangements can help airlines operate more efficiently because they can reduce costs by providing a joint service with one aircraft rather than operating separate services with two aircraft. Particularly in thin markets, this efficiency can lead to increased price and service options for consumers or enable the use of equipment sized appropriately for the market. Therefore, the Department recognizes that codesharing, as well as long-term wet leases, can offer significant economic benefits.

Although codesharing and wet-lease arrangements can offer significant consumer benefits, they can also be misleading unless consumers know that the transportation they are considering for purchase will not be provided by the airline whose designator code is shown on the ticket, schedule, or itinerary and unless they know the identity of the airline on which they will be flying. The growth in the use of codesharing, wet-leasing, and similar marketing tools, particularly in international air transportation, had given the Department concern about whether the then-current disclosure rules (14 CFR 399.88) protected the public interest adequately and led the Department to adopt specific regulations requiring the disclosure of code-sharing arrangements and long-term wet leases on March 15, 1999. (14 CFR part 257)

These regulations required U.S. airlines, foreign airlines and travel agents doing business in the United States, to notify passengers of the existence of code-sharing or long-term wet lease arrangements. It also required U.S. airlines, foreign airlines and travel agents to tell prospective consumers, in all oral communications before booking transportation, that the transporting airline is not the airline whose designator code will appear on travel documents and identify the transporting airline by its corporate name and any other name under which that service is held out to the public.

Respondents: All U.S. air carriers, foreign air carriers, computer reservations systems (CRSs), and travel Start Printed Page 57796agents doing business in the United States, and the traveling public.

Number of Respondents: 16,000, excluding travelers.

Frequency: At 15 seconds per call and an average of 1.5 calls per trip, a total of 22.5 seconds per respondent or traveler, for the approximately 33% of codeshare itineraries that involve personal contact.

Total Annual Burden: Annual reporting burden for this data collection is estimated at 618,750 hours for all travel agents and airline ticket agents, based on 15 seconds per phone call and an average of 1.5 phone calls per trip, for the approximately 33% of codeshare itineraries that involve personal contact. Most of this data collection (third party notification) is accomplished through highly automated computerized systems.

Public Comments Invited: You are asked to comment on any aspect of this information collection, including (a) whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the Department's performance; (b) the accuracy of the estimated burden; (c) ways for the Department to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collection; and (d) ways that the burden could be minimized without reducing the quality of the collected information.

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Authority : The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; 44 U.S.C. chapter 35, as amended; and 49 CFR 1:48.

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Dated: September 12, 2011.

Todd M. Homan,

Director, Office of Aviation Analysis.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2011-23770 Filed 9-15-11; 8:45 am]

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