Commercial and civil aviation in the Dominican Republic is governed by the Civil Aviation Board (JAC), the Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC) and the Specialised Body of Airports and Civil Aviation Security (CESAC).
JAC is the consulting body for government authorities concerning air transport policies and the ruling and executive body for economic matters.
IDAC is a specialised independent and technical body in charge of aviation safety. It supervises and controls civil aviation, particularly the enforcement of relevant rules and regulations.
CESAC is the authority for civil aviation security, and the body responsible for enforcement and compliance with the National Programme of Civil Aviation Security.
The basic legal framework includes the following laws:
- Law No. 491-06, dated 28 December 2006, on Dominican Republic Civil Aviation (LAC);
- Law No. 188-11, dated 22 July 2011, on Airport and Civil Aviation Security; and
- Law No. 8-78, dated 17 November 1978, on Airport Commission.
The following international conventions are applicable to Dominican civil aviation:
- Warsaw Convention 1929;
- Chicago Convention 1944;
- Montreal Protocol 1947;
- Montreal Protocol 1954;
- Hague Protocol 1955;
- Tokyo Convention 1963;
- Hague Convention 1970;
- Montreal Convention 1971 and its supplementary protocol;
- London Convention 1972 (on regulation to prevent collisions at sea) and its appendices;
- Montreal Convention 1991;
- Montreal Protocol 1988; and
- Montreal Convention 1999.
The Dominican Republic has entered into bilateral agreements with 40 countries for opening commercial airlines routes.
IDAC is responsible for air navigation safety and takes all measures and regulations to guarantee aviation safety.
IDAC supervises the fulfilment of the safety rules set out in appendices 1, 2, 11, 14 and 68 of the Chicago Convention.
The main safety rules are contained in LAC and Dominican Aeronautical Rules (RAD) numbers 2, 61 and 110.
IDAC has the authority to check the fulfilment of flight rules and inspect mechanical conditions and aircraft airworthiness.
According to LAC, the pilot shall have final authority concerning all matters related to the aircraft while he or she is in charge of the aircraft.
IDAC is authorised to validate licences issued by other member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to pilots, crew and mechanics that are going to support or operate Dominican aircraft.
Surveillance and air traffic control rules accord with ICAO rules, while safety rules accord with provisions set out in the Chicago Convention and its appendices.
Access to the Market.
Access to the market is regulated. National air operators must obtain an economic authorisation certificate (CAE), issued by JAC, and they must also obtain an air operator’s certificate (AOC), issued by IDAC.
Foreign air operators need an operation permission issued by JAC, which shall be issued after confirming that they comply with safety specifications provided by IDAC and the security aviation rules provided by CESAC.
JAC could refuse to issue permissions or authorisations for certain routes, if it considers traffic needs are satisfied.
Requirements for National Operators.
Article 220 of LAC provides that air transport services are reserved to national air operators, but they could be granted to foreign air operators from countries that have entered into agreements or treaties with the Dominican Republic.
To determine and guarantee the capacity and economic and financial suitability of national air operators they must apply for an economic authorisation certificate from JAC.
Foreign air operators prove their financial and economical capacity by submitting the permissions issued by the relevant authorities in their countries.
According to LAC, national companies are those whose capital and substantial ownership is owned by Dominican citizens with at least a 35 per cent share and their board of directors is composed of Dominicans in the same proportion. Also, national companies are those where 50 per cent plus one of the directing staff not on the board are Dominican and those having their headquarters located in the Dominican Republic.
On 24 April 2013, the Dominican Republic enacted Law 67-13, which amended certain aspects of the Civil Aviation Law (Law 491-06).
The main goal of this amendment is to change the requirements for a national air operator. Pursuant to this new law a company with foreign capital in full (100 per cent) can be considered as a national air operator, provided, however, that the investment is coming from an internationally known airline.
Nowadays most operating airlines are from abroad. Dominican authorities have an open and flexible policy to allow the entry of new foreign air operators into the market.
Licensing and permissions are ruled by LAC. To operate a route, national air operators need a CAE issued by JAC, and an AOC issued by IDAC.
National air operator applicants must prove to JAC that they comply with nationality requirement in connection with company ownership and control.
Furthermore, the national air operator must prove compliance with the National Civil Aviation Security Programme as set forth by CESAC, which has been drafted in accordance with appendix 17 of the Chicago Convention, as well as financial and economic supporting information, feasibility studies, etc.
Licences for foreign companies are issued according to reciprocity agreements entered into by the Dominican Republic and the operator’s country. However, JAC is authorised to issue an operation licence without an agreement or reciprocity statement.
Operation licences are issued for a 10-year maximum term.
Rodolfo Mesa Chavez
Note: This article is based in author contribution to Getting the Deal Through. Air Transport Dominican Republic