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Notice

Request for Comments of a Previously Approved Information Collection

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ACTION:

Notice and request for comments.

SUMMARY:

In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), this notice announces that the Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted below is being forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and comments. A Federal Register Notice with a 60-day comment period soliciting comments on the following information collection was published on September 16, 2011 (76 FR 57795).

DATES:

Comments must be submitted on or before March 26, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Aleta Best, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs (X-55), Office of the Secretary, W86-498, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, (202) 493-0797.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

OMB Control Number: 2105-0537.

Type of Request: Renewal of a Previously Approved 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 the 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, wetleasing, 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.

Estimated Number of Respondents: 16,000, excluding travelers.

Estimated Number of Responses: 300 million (estimated number of passengers who may be traveling on a codeshare or wet-lease ticket).

Annual Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 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.

The estimated burden has changed from the previous collection based on adjustments to the set of respondents and changes to the number of annual airline passengers.

Frequency of Collection: Collection occurs at the time a passenger books an airline ticket.

ADDRESSES: Send comments regarding the burden estimate, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to the Office of Management and Budget, Attention: Desk Officer for the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503.

Comments are invited on: Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Department, including whether the information will have practical utility; the accuracy of the Department's estimate of the burden of the proposed information collection; ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

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

Issued in Washington, DC, on February 17, 2012.

Patricia Lawton,

Departmental PRA Clearance Officer, Office of the Secretary.

[FR Doc. 2012-4299 Filed 2-23-12; 8:45 am]

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