Listeners of the hit podcast Casefile may recall last August’s episode dealing with the 1998 disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley aboard a cruise ship owned by an American corporation but registered or “flagged” in Norway. The phenomenon of ships being registered in foreign countries has come to be known as the “flag of convenience” problem. Because a ship primarily follows the laws and regulations of the country where it is flagged, there is an incentive for ship owners to register their craft in states with loose oversight of safety, security, and labor issues. The Bradley case, which made headlines around the world, proved vexing to American investigators as the Norwegian registry of the ship coupled with its port location when Bradley went missing (Curacao) dictated in large part the laws that had to be followed. While some steps have been taken since 1998 to address this problem, flags of convenience remain a common feature of the maritime industry.
Ever since “Brexit” (the nickname for the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) withdrawal from the European Union (EU)), aviation analysts and lawyers have pondered what would become of U.S./U.K. aviation trade relations. Prior to the landmark 2007 U.S./EU Air Services Agreement, U.S./U.K. aviation trade was governed by a highly restrictive agreement signed in the 1970s known as “Bermuda II” (“Bermuda I” was the slightly less restrictive treaty signed between the two countries after the Second World War). Bermuda II imposed tight controls on transatlantic rates, routes, and services offered by both parties’ air carriers. London Heathrow Airport, a major gateway into Europe, locked out competition from all but two U.S. airlines, PanAm and TWA (these rights were later acquired by American Airlines and United). Despite U.S. attempts to liberalize its trade relations with Britain, the U.K. remained favored a policy of managed air services trade for decades.
Before taking to Twitter yesterday to issue a rather controversial message to North Korea regarding nuclear weapons, United States President Donald Trump issued this curious tweet:
Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news – it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018