Security and depository agreements.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, the charter operator or foreign charter operator shall furnish a security agreement in an amount for not less than the charter price for the air transportation, if only air transportation is involved, or, if the charter involves land accommodations in addition to air transportation, a security agreement in one of the following amounts dependent upon the length of the charter or series of charters:
(1) For a charter or series of charters of 14 days or less, security in an amount of not less than the charter price for the air transportation to be furnished in connection with such charter or series of charters;
(2) For a charter or series of charters of more than 14 days but less than 28 days security in an amount of not less than twice the charter price; and
(3) For a charter or series of charters of 28 days or more, security in an amount of not less than three times the charter price: Provided, however, That the liability of the securer to any charter participant shall not exceed amounts paid by that participant to the charter operator with respect to the charter.
(b) The direct air carrier and the charter operator or foreign charter operator may elect, in lieu of furnishing a security agreement as provided under paragraph (a) of this section, to comply with the requirements of paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) of this section, as follows:
(1) The charter operator shall furnish a security agreement in an amount of at least $10,000 times the number of flights, except that the amount need not be more than $200,000. The liability of the securer to any charter participant shall not exceed the amount paid by the participant to the charter operator for that charter.
(2) The direct air carrier and charter operator or foreign charter operator shall enter into an agreement with a designated bank, the terms of which shall provide that all payments by charter participants paid to charter operators or foreign charter operators and their retail travel agents shall be deposited with and maintained by the bank subject to the following conditions:
(i) On sales made to charter participants by charter operators or foreign charter operators the participant shall pay by check, money order, or credit card draft payable to the bank; 2 on sales made to charter participants by retail travel agents, the retail travel agent may deduct his commission and remit the balance to the designated bank by check, money order, or electronic transfer: Provided, That the travel agent agrees in writing with the charter operator or foreign charter operator that if the charter is canceled the travel agent shall remit to the bank the full amount of the commission previously deducted or received within 10 days after receipt of notification of cancellation of the charter; except for the credit card company's usual commission (not to exceed 3 percent), the charter operator shall not permit any portion of a charter participant's payments by credit cared to be “held back” by the credit card merchant bank; 3
2 See also n.1, supra.
3 “Holdback” is an amount in excess of usual commissions that a credit card merchant bank sometimes retains to cover potential charge-backs or other charges.
(ii) The bank shall pay the direct air carrier the charter price for the transportation not earlier than 60 days (including day of departure) prior to the scheduled day of departure of the originating or returning flight, upon certification of the departure date by the air carrier: Provided, That, in the case of a round trip charter contract to be performed by one carrier, the total round trip charter price shall be paid to the carrier not earlier than 60 days prior to the scheduled day of departure of the originating flight;
(iii) The bank shall reimburse the charter operator or foreign charter operator for refunds made by the latter to the charter participant upon written notification from the charter operator or foreign charter operator;
(iv) If the charter operator, foreign charter operator or the direct air carrier notifies the bank that a charter has been canceled, the bank shall make applicable refunds directly to the charter participants;
(v) After the charter price has been paid in full to the direct air carrier, the bank shall pay funds from the account directly to the hotels, sightseeing enterprises, or other persons or companies furnishing ground accommodations and services, if any, in connection with the charter or series of charters upon presentation to the bank of vendors' bills and upon certification by the charter operator or foreign charter operator of the amounts payable for such ground accommodations and services and the person or companies to whom payment is to be made: Provided, however, That the total amounts paid by the bank pursuant to paragraphs (b)(2) (ii) and (v) of this section shall not exceed either the total cost of the air transportation, or 80 percent of the total deposits received by the bank less any refunds made to charter participants pursuant to paragraphs (b)(2) (ii) and (iv) of this section, whichever is greater;
(vi) As used in this section, the term “bank” means a bank insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation;
(vii) The bank shall maintain a separate accounting for each charter group;
(viii) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, the amount of total cash deposits required to be maintained in the depository account of the bank may be reduced by one or both of the following: The amount of the security agreement in the form prescribed in this section in excess of the minimum coverage required by paragraph (b)(1) of this section; an escrow with the designated bank of Federal, State, or municipal bonds or other securities, consisting of certificates of deposit issued by banks having a stated policy of redeeming such certificates before maturity at the request of the holder (subject only to such interest penalties or other conditions as may be required by law), or negotiable securities which are publicly traded on a securities exchange, all such securities to be made payable to the escrow account: Provided, That such other securities shall be substituted in an amount no greater than 80 percent of the total market value of the escrow account at the time of such substitution: And provided, further, That should the market value of such other securities subsequently decrease, from time to time, then additional cash or securities qualified for investment hereunder shall promptly be added to the escrow account, in an amount equal to the amount of such decreased value; and
(ix) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(2)(i), (iii), (iv), (v), and (viii) of this section, the bank shall not pay out any funds from the account prior to 2 banking days after completion of each charter, when the balance in the account shall be paid the charter operator or foreign charter operator, upon certification of the completion date by the direct air carrier: Provided, however, That if the Charter involves air transportation only and the bank has paid the direct air carrier(s) the charter price for the originating flight, and the returning flight if any, and has paid all refunds due to participants, as provided in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) and (iii), respectively, of this section, then the bank may pay the balance in the account to the charter operator upon certification by the direct air carrier performing the originating flight that such flight has in fact departed.
(c) (1) The security agreement required under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section shall insure the financial responsibility of the charter operator or foreign charter operator and the supplying of the transportation and all other accommodations, services, and facilities in accordance with the contract between the charter operator or foreign charter operator and the charter participants.
(2) The security agreement may be either:
(i) A surety bond in the form set forth as appendix A to this part;
(ii) A surety trust agreement in the form set forth as appendix B to this part; or
(iii) An arrangement with a bank (for instance, a standby letter of credit) that provides protection of charter participants' funds equivalent to or greater than that provided by the Bond in appendix A. An arrangement that furnishes a lesser degree of protection than would be provided under the bond shall be invalid to that extent, and instead the bank, the charter operator or foreign charter operator, and the charter participants shall have the same rights and liabilities as provided under a bond in the form of appendix A. If the arrangement does not give as much protection as a bond against the risk of the charter operator's bankruptcy, the bank shall be liable in the event of bankruptcy to the same extent as if it had entered into a bond.
(3) Any agreement under paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section shall include a statement that, in the event that the other provisions of the agreement do not provide protection to charter participants comparable to that provided under a bond in the form of appendix A, the bank shall assume, for the benefit of the charter participants, all the liabilities it would have if it entered into the bond.
(4) The security agreement shall be effective on or before the date the charter prospectus is filed with the Department.
(5) The security agreement shall be specifically identified by the issuing securer with a numbering system so that the Department can identify the security agreement with the specific charter or charters to which it relates. These data may be set forth in an addendum attached to the security agreement, which addendum must be signed by the charter operator or foreign charter operator and the securer.
(6) When security is provided by a surety bond, such bond shall be issued by a bonding or surety company that is listed in Best's Insurance Reports (Fire and Casualty) with a general policyholders' rating of “A” or better. The bonding or surety company shall be one legally authorized to issue bonds of that type in the State in which the charter originates. For purposes of this section the term “State” includes any territory or possession of the United States, or the District of Columbia.
(7) When security is provided by a security agreement other than a bond, the agreement shall be issued by a national bank complying with the provisions of 12 CFR 7.7010(a), or by a State bank complying with applicable State laws that give authority to issue such agreements, and all such banks must be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
(d) The security agreement required by this section shall provide that unless the charter participant files a claim with the charter operator or foreign charter operator, or, if it is unavailable, with the securer, within 60 days after termination of the charter, the securer shall be released from all liability under the security agreement to such charter participant. Terminations means the date of arrival (or in the case of a canceled charter, the intended date of arrival) of the return flight. If there is no return flight in a participant's itinerary, termination means the date or intended date of departure of the last flight in the participant's itinerary.