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U.S. Regulation of the Airline Industry

(200 reviews)

Produced on November 10, 2017

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Course Information

Time 1h 1m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Aviation

Course Description

The airline sector is among our economy’s most important industries. It is a critical part of our nation’s and the international transportation infrastructure. From a legal and regulatory perspective, the industry provides a fascinating case study regarding the tension between the desire to open markets to greater competition and the need to regulate to ensure safety, protect consumers, and prevent antitrust violations. In the 1980s, Congress deregulated the domestic airline industry, yet today the industry is highly regulated. On the international side, the U.S. has led a global trend toward opening markets, but controversies persist regarding whether a few international airline alliances have become too dominant and whether some of their state-owned competitors enjoy unfair subsidies that distort competition.  

In this course, Cozen O’Connor Aviation Practice Co-Chair David Heffernan will address these issues, while providing an informational and analytical framework for understanding how the industry is regulated by Congress and the executive branch and how that regulation has affected competition in different ways in domestic and international markets. Finally, the presenter will examine how airline regulation is changing under the Trump administration.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Address the fundamentals of regulation of the U.S. airline industry, including the role and authority of key federal agencies
  2. Identify how Congress oversees the U.S. airline industry
  3. Discuss the U.S. airline industry’s market structure and competition
  4. Examine the development of international airline alliances, including their exemption from U.S. antitrust laws
  5. Analyze the ongoing dispute between U.S. airlines and airlines from the Gulf states relating to subsidization
  6. Consider how airline regulation is changing under the Trump administration

Credit Information

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David Heffernan

Cozen O'Connor

David Heffernan is a member of the firm's Transportation & Trade Group and co-chair of the Aviation Industry Team. David represents major U.S. and foreign passenger and cargo airlines and their trade associations, airports, aircraft, engine and other equipment manufacturers, air travel distribution companies, air/ground express delivery and logistics companies, and other aviation industry participants before various government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Homeland Security, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 

David assists clients in obtaining economic authority, code-share authority, international frequencies and routes, and antitrust immunity. He advises clients on U.S. laws, regulations, legislation and DOT/FAA/TSA policies with respect to such issues as mergers, acquisitions, airline alliances and joint ventures, computer reservations systems and air travel distribution regulation, licensing and certification (including FAA certification of aircraft and equipment), taxes and fees, airport slots, rates and charges, advertising and consumer enforcement policies, aviation safety and security, and competition policy. He also advises clients on the sale, lease, and financing of aircraft, engines, and other aviation assets, including large commercial and private corporate aircraft. In addition, he advises clients on aviation regulatory aspects of aircraft/equipment transactions, mergers, acquisitions, and other corporate transactions involving the purchase and sale of aviation companies and assets, as well as aircraft management, charter, and fractional ownership agreements. These clients include not only aviation companies but also large corporations, banks, private equity and other investors. David has also advised clients involved in the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business for both large commercial and private corporate aircraft. He also has advised clients on regulatory and other legal issues relating to commercial uses of unmanned aircraft (drones).

David has been recognized as a nationwide leader in Transportation: Aviation/Regulatory in each annual edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2007-2016). He was selected as a leader in aviation law in the 2012- 2015 editions of The International Who's Who of Aviation Lawyers. He also was nominated for inclusion in Legal Media Group's Guide to the World's Leading Aviation Lawyers, 6th edition and 9th edition, in addition to being the recipient of the 2015 Air Law Institute Inspiration Award: Law. The Legal 500 United States named David a "Leading Lawyer" for Transport: Aviation and Air Travel for 2017.

David is editor-in-chief of The Air & Space Lawyer, the quarterly publication of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Air & Space Law. He is the author of numerous articles on legal issues affecting the aviation industry. As a co-editor, he has published two treatises on U.S. and European aviation law: Aviation Regulation in the United States (ABA Book Publishing, 2014) and the Cologne Compendium on Air Law in Europe (Kluwer, 2013). He authored a chapter on Compliance with U.S. Aviation and Safety Regulations in the book "Inside the Minds: Complying with Transportation Regulations" (Thomson Reuters Westlaw, Aspatore Books, 2014).

David is a regular speaker at legal and industry conferences on aviation law topics, including economic and safety regulation, unmanned aircraft, air travel distribution, airline alliances and consumer protection issues.


Andrew A.

Very organized presentation.

Richard G.

Good program, presented well.

Kyung Jin L.

It was a good overview of the subject.

Randy P.

Very informative and clearly expressed! Thanks.

Christian K.

I practice aviation law and found this be a great top-level overview of the statutory and regulatory issues impacting the aviation sector.

Louis D.

Excellent, comprehensive overview on state of play of federal interaction with the Aviation Industry in the U.S.

Lisa W.


Andrew P.

Interesting and informative course Wonderful speaker

christopher r.

Terrific speaker; imparted an excellent overview of area.

Marshall N.

Thank you.

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