Unruly Air Passengers; Civil Aviation Act 10 Of 1972; National Land Transport Transition A/B: briefings

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Transport

15 August 2006
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Meeting report

TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
16 August 2006
UNRULY AIR PASSENGERS; CIVIL AVIATION ACT 10 OF 1972; NATIONAL LAND TRANSPORT TRANSITION A/B: BRIEFINGS

Acting Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)

Documents handed out;
FEDUSA/ALPA-SA Submission on Unruly Passengers Midway in Air
National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill: Questions Raised by Portfolio Committee and Related Issues

SUMMARY
The Federation of Unions of South Africa and Airline Pilots Association briefed the Committee on their concerns on the daily disruption of flights by unruly passengers, who endangered the safety or lives of crew and other passengers. The offences, which were increasing in frequency, were not being taken seriously, and carried only a small fine on conviction. Consequently pilots and crew felt it pointless to file complaints. The Airline Pilots Association recommended an amendment of Section 2(3) of the Civil Aviation Offences Act. Case studies were placed before the Committee, and it was urged that immediate action was needed. The Department of Transport and FEDUSA indicated that they would like to comment on the proposed amendments, and it was agreed that all interested parties would meet on a separate occasion. The Chairperson asked the Department of Transport to drive the amendment.

The Department of Transport presented its response to the questions raised on 1 August on the proposed amendments to the National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill. Some definitions were clarified, but in general there was little discussion. The Department would submit a written report to the Committee in the following week.

MINUTES
Federation of Unions of South Africa and Airline Pilots Association of South Africa: Briefing on unruly passengers on air flights
Ms Gretchen Humphries (Parliamentary Officer: Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA informed the committee that FEDUSA represented 530 000 members within 26 affiliated trade unions. One of these affiliates was the Airline Pilots Association of South Africa (ALPA).

Mr Chris Kinghorn (representing Airline Pilots Association of South Africa (ALPA)) reported that though there was sufficiently good legislation on hijacking of planes, the current legislation relating to offences in mid-air such as threatening or assaulting airline crew was weak. Problems often arose when drunk passengers disrupted the flight, often in mid air. These offences carried only a paltry fine of R100, despite the fact that lives of crew and passengers could be endangered. Such offences had increased and there was an urgent need to address this growing problem before someone was seriously injured.

ALPA therefore called for the amendment of Section 2(3) of the Civil Aviation Offences Act No. 10 of 1972, so that more serious measures could be taken against people who committed offences on board flights. It provided the committee with actual case studies detailing the types of instances that had occurred, and stressed the urgency of the matter in view of the daily occurrence of these problems.

Discussion
Mr Levers Mabaso (Director, Civil Aviation and Compliance and Monitoring: Department of Transport (DoT)) argued that the punishment for offences created should not be specified, but should rather be left open for the courts to decide the appropriate sentence. This would avoid complications due to change in currency or inflation. New standards should perhaps also be incorporated in the bill to improve it.

Ms Humphries (FEDUSA) also asked for the opportunity give input on the suggested amendment.

Mr Mabaso welcomed the opportunity to receive suggestions from FEDUSA and suggested that all parties discuss the issue further outside this meeting.

The Chairman commented that it was clear that there was general support for strengthening the legislation, and that the operating environment of the aviation industry must clearly be addressed. He requested the Department of Transport to drive the process of amending the bill and to look at the regulation.

Department of Transport: Response to questions previously raised by the Portfolio Committee (1 August 2006) on Amendments to the National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill
Mr Levers Mabaso presented the response of the Department of Transport to questions raised during the Department’s presentation of 1 August 2006 to the Committee. In brief, the responses required by the Committee related to the following clauses;

Clause 1 (a): Definition of “associations”
Clause 1 (b), (c), and (d): Definitions of “bus”, “mini bus” and “midi bus”.
Clause 1 (e): Definition of “municipal public transport”
Clause 4(b): Planning principles. Since the principles of planning were already contained in Clause 18(3), it was agreed that Clause 4 (b) be deleted.
Clause 5 (d): Simplification of the references to planning authorities.
Clause 5: Removal of references to core cities and metropolitan transport areas (MTA)
Clause 6 (b): Consequential amendment to section 20(3)
Clause 10 (a): Consequential amendment to section 27(1)
Clause 10 (c): Referring of plans to other MECs in the case of inter-provincial services.
Clause 13 (a): Vehicle sizes
Clause 13 (b): Use of minibuses on scheduled routes.
Clause 13: Standing passengers in minibuses and midi buses. Certain allowances in respect of LDV`s
Clause 15 (a): Change of ownership
Clause 15 (b): Persons acquiring a vehicle to obtain an operating license.
Clause 18: Replacement of vehicle
Clause 20: proposed new Section 91A, dealing with tourist services.
Clause 21: Temporary replacement of vehicle.

Discussion
The chairperson referred to Clause 5, and reported that the Committee was pleased that district municipalities could enter contracts, and hoped that subsidies would eventually reach rural areas.

Mr M Swathe (DA) asked if large zones like Polokwane would use their own planning authorities or if Capricorn would be used to aid Polokwane.

Mr Mabaso responded that devolution would be dependent on each municipality’s capacity to handle contracts.

Mr Mabaso, on request by the Committee, clarified the respective definitions of, and differences between, a mini and a midi bus, as set out in the Bill. He added that further clarity needed to be given by the Minister regarding the safety features in vehicles.

Ms N P Khunou (ANC) asked for an example of a 9 seater vehicle.

Mr Mabaso clarified that this would be something like a VW which had 10 seats, including the driver’s seat, and which therefore carried 9 passengers

Ms Khunou commented that many domestic workers had trouble accessing transport after hours.

Mr Mabaso responded that provided that a Municipality’s Integrated Transport Plan (ITP) was in order all people would be catered for, as feeder type systems would take care of after-hours transportation.

The Chairperson stated that although there were existing subsidies of up to R5 billion, the system somehow seemed to be undermining the respective institutions. He suggested that broader lateral thinking and a more integrated approach was needed.

A Committee member commented that 30 years ago, in the absence of taxis, transport needs had been met. Now taxis were operating the same routes.

Mr Swathe asked what class of transport was used at the airport to ferry standing passengers.

Mr Mabaso replied that this was classed as a bus.

Mr Mabaso commented that further amendments could certainly be made to the Bill, and that the Department would, in the following week, submit a written report to the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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