Instruments on planes: Musicians call on the EU Council to follow the EU Parliament!
You thought that the EU was fair to musicians traveling on planes with their instruments? Wrong! Here’s why.
Two years ago, on Feb. 5th, 2014, the European Parliament adopted the text reviewing community regulation 2027/97 on air carrier liability in respect of the carriage of passengers and their baggage by air. This revised regulation, adopted with an overwhelming majority of 580 votes in favour (41 against, 48 abstentions), includes provisions aimed to facilitate the transport of musical instruments on board planes as hand luggage.
The text will only become EU law once it is adopted in the exact same terms by the European Council and the European parliament.
Unfortunately, the limited attention that the European Council has paid to this matter so far has only resulted in the proposal to remove article 6e, which is precisely the section that recognises the right of musicians to be treated decently by airline companies.
The reasoning of the Council is that “it should be left to each air carrier to establish its own policy on the matter”. The problem is that airlines operate vastly differing policies which are generally unfriendly to musicians.
On March 6, 2015, new administrative rules for musical instruments went into effect in the US, as required by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. These rules establish a fair framework, along the very same lines as the article 6e that the European Council wants to delete.
We believe that the European Union should be as fair to musicians as the US on this crucial issue.
To this end, we call for a new and massive mobilization of the global music community, asking the European Council to ensure article 6e of revised regulation 2027/97 remains intact, in the wording adopted by the EU Parliament.
Musicians, wherever they work, deserve a fair treatment when they travel by air with their instrument!
1. Without their own instruments, musicians are unable to perform and properly execute their jobs. Musicians have a very special relationship with their instrument(s). Without their own instruments – the tools of their trade on which they rehearse and perform – musicians are unable to execute their profession. Except in very rare and specific cases, substituting instruments upon arrival at a new destination is simply not an option. Arriving at a destination with a damaged instrument is unacceptable and could render the musician unable to perform their contract through no fault of their own.
2. Many instruments, even when put in appropriate travel cases (flight-cases), cannot be left in the cargo part of the plane without being subject to a high risk of unrecoverable damage. It is common knowledge that violins and similar instruments can be of immense monetary value. But this is not the sole reason for which they need special care. A musician may spend months or years before he / she finds the right instrument. Many hours of daily practice make the relationship between the performer and his / her instrument a symbiotic one.
3. Restrictions applying to the carrying of instruments on planes have become a serious hindrance to the mobility of artists, either because it is impossible to take the instrument on board or because the additional price to pay makes the travel too expensive to be covered by the performer's revenues.
4. There is no industry-wide policy. One of the main problems facing musicians who travel with their instruments is that there is no consistent policy across the EU applicable to airlines to rely upon. When an individual airline does have a policy, it is often applied inconsistently, which results in great uncertainty as to whether instruments may be carried on board and under which conditions.
We believe that the revised regulation 2027/97 on air passenger rights, adopted by the EU Parliament on 5 February 2014, takes proper account of the problems encountered by musicians travelling on planes for professional purposes. We therefore call on the European Council to support article 6e of this revised regulation as it is, and to swiftly come to an agreement with the Parliament, so that this text becomes EU law as soon as possible.
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