FAA Seeks to Toughen Safety Rules on Public Charter Carriers Like JSX

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The move could be a blow to carriers like JSX, whose appeal is in part offering customers a private jet-like experience.

The Federal Aviation Administration is looking to implement more stringent safety requirements on public charter airlines such as JSX.

The federal agency said some public charter flights operate like commercial airlines, but are not subject to the same safety regulations, which is often not made clear to customers. If the changes are approved, both would operate under the same rules. 

“Part of the safety mission of the FAA is identifying risk early on, and that’s exactly what we’re doing on public charters as usage expands,” said FAA chief Mike Whitaker. “If a company is effectively operating as a scheduled airline, the FAA needs to determine whether those operations should follow the same stringent rules as scheduled airlines.”

A Problem for JSX

Such a move could be a blow for carriers like JSX since part of their appeal comes from offering customers a private jet-like experience. JSX, for example, operates out of small private terminals, so customers don’t go through a typical TSA security screening – JSX says passengers can arrive just 20 minutes before departure.

In addition, under current FAA regulations, JSX pilots don’t need to meet the 1,500 flying hours requirement or the mandatory retirement age of 65. 

“As the country’s largest public charter air carrier, JSX has modeled the way forward for safe, secure, and reliable regional operations,” a JSX spokesperson said in a statement to Skift. “We eagerly look forward to collaborating with our regulators to cement the importance of public charters and expand access to vital air connectivity in the future.”

Major Airlines Lobby Against JSX’s Business Model

The FAA and TSA began reviewing whether public charter flights should be under similar regulations as commercial airlines last year. The FAA said it plans to release a final rule “expeditiously” after receiving 60,000 public comments on the matter. 

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and pilots’ unions had lobbied the federal government to consider stricter safety regulations on JSX, arguing that the carrier was taking advantage of a regulatory loophole.

JSX CEO Alex Wilcox said in a filing to the Department of Transportation in June 2023 pushed back on the argument that there was a loophole.

“There is no ‘public charter loophole’ as American and ALPA have alleged because JSX’s operations are expressly permitted under the regulations,” he wrote.

“American’s and ALPA’s attempts to fabricate a regulatory controversy where none exists and place political pressure on [the] DOT to accomplish an end-run around the existing rules, all in order to put JSX out of business, should be unequivocally and resoundingly rejected,” Wilcox said.

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