The U.S. Departments of Commerce, State, and Transportation announced an open forum on April 10, 2015, and issued a Federal Register notice on May 5, 2015 (80 FR 25671), soliciting information and views on assertions that three foreign airlines – Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways – have received and are benefitting from subsidies from their respective governments that are distorting the global aviation market. A forthcoming supplemental Federal Register notice published by the Departments announces the establishment of deadlines for the submission of such information and views to the public dockets and provides additional guidance for the submission of confidential information.
As reflected in the supplemental Federal Register notice, the Departments request that information be submitted to the dockets by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 3. The Departments further request that any additional materials commenting on information submitted to the dockets be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on August 24. The Departments may establish additional deadlines at their discretion.
To ensure that their views are considered, stakeholders should provide a written submission to the Departments. Comments may be submitted electronically through the Federal Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, and submitters may submit comments in any or all of the following three dockets:
As noted when the dockets were established, docket materials are not edited to remove identifying or any other contact information and the Departments caution against including any information in an electronic submission that the submitter does not want publicly disclosed.
The supplemental Federal Register notice also sets forth updated guidance with respect to information that a submitter believes is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (“Confidential Information”), such as trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that is privileged and confidential.
Any submissions containing Confidential Information must be delivered to each of the three Departments in the following manner:
- Deliver the submission in a sealed envelope marked “confidential treatment requested”;
- Provide an index listing the document(s) or information that the submitter would like the Departments to withhold. The index should include information such as numbers used to identify the relevant document(s) or information, document title and description, and relevant pages numbers and/or section numbers within a document; and
- Provide a statement explaining the submitter’s grounds for objecting to disclosure of the information to the public.
The Departments also request that submitters of Confidential Information, including those who have previously submitted Confidential Information, include a non-confidential version (either redacted or summarized) of those confidential submissions in the public dockets. In the event that the submitter cannot provide a non-confidential version of its submission, the Departments request that the submitter post a notice in the dockets stating that it has provided the Departments with Confidential Information. Should a submitter fail to docket either a non-confidential version of its submission or to post a notice that Confidential Information has been provided, the Departments will note the receipt of the submission on the dockets, including for submissions already received, with the submitter’s organization or name (to the degree permitted by law) and the date of submission.