• Operating Licence holders can fly on most routes within the EEA without needing to apply for separate licences for each country.

    An Operating Licence relates to the nature, ownership and financial health of an airline business. Operational safety is assessed under the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) scheme.

    Applicants for an Operating Licence need to have a valid AOC.

    Please contact the CAA with any queries or to discuss your application.

    Two types of Operating Licence are available – Type A and Type B

    • A Type A Operating Licence is required by operators of aircraft with 20 or more seats.
    • A Type B Operating Licence is required by operators of aircraft with 19 or fewer seats.

    The requirements for each type of licence are set out below. In many respects the requirements are identical, with the following exceptions:

    • Applicants for Type A licences must pass a financial test and the CAA will continue to monitor their financial health.
    • Type A licence holders must keep the CAA updated with details of company particulars every six months, while Type B licence holders need only do so once every year.

    Requirements to qualify for an Operating Licence

    Full details of requirements to qualify for an Operating Licence are available in the publication Official Record Series 1 – Licensing UK Airlines.

    Location

    Your principal place of business must be in the UK to qualify for an Operating Licence from the CAA.

    Nature of business

    The main occupation of the licence holder must be either

    • air transport alone
      or
    • air transport combined with other aviation activities

    Ownership and control

    The business which will hold the Operating Licence must be:

    • majority owned
      and
    • effectively controlled

    by nationals of European Economic Area (EEA) Member States or by Member States themselves.

    For more information read this guidance note on ownership and control.

    Fitness

    • Applicants for Operating Licences must be of good repute.
    • None of the people involved in managing a business which holds an Operating Licence must be bankrupt.

    Notification

    Company particulars

    • Type A Operating Licence holders must submit an updated Company Particulars form to the CAA every 6 months.
    • Type B Operating Licence holders must submit an updated Company Particulars form to the CAA once every year.

    Change of ownership

    Holders of either type of Operating Licence are required to advise the CAA within 14 days of any change affecting the ownership of the licence holder and/or its parent or ultimate holding company.

    Insurance

    Before an Operating Licence is granted, the applicant must demonstrate that sufficient insurance is in place for:

    • death or injury to passengers
    • third party damage
    • war risk
    • baggage and cargo

    More detailed information on insurance requirements, including minimum required levels, is available on the Insurance page in this section of the website.

    Finance

    • Financial requirements only apply to Type A Operating Licences. There is no financial test for Type B Operating Licences.

    Applicants for a Type A Operating Licence must demonstrate that they have sufficient funding for the first two years of operations, including that they are able to meet their costs for the first three months of operations without income.

    The exact amount of funding is established by the CAA based on a realistic business plan submitted by the applicant.

    The CAA will continue to monitor the financial health of Type A Operating Licence holders.

    Licences can be revoked or suspended by the CAA if it considers a Licence holder’s resources are no longer adequate for the operation of an airline.

    Full details of financial requirements for Type A Operating Licences are available in Official Record Series 1 – Licensing Airlines in the UK.

    Financial protection

    Holding an Operating Licence does not offer any kind of financial protection to passengers. The issue of financial protection for passengers is covered in full in the ATOL section of this website.

    Operational safety

    An Operating Licence does not certify an airline’s operational safety. This is assessed under the Air Operator Certificate scheme.