Airline licensing

Guidance for airline operators

In order to carry passengers, cargo or mail for payment, air operators based in the European Economic Area (EEA) must hold an Operating Licence granted by the Member State in which they have their principal place of business.  For UK airlines, licensing is undertaken by the CAA.  Details on what is required from different types of air operator are set out in Licensing Airlines in the UK - (Official Record Series 1).

In order to qualify for an Operating Licence, an operator must meet a number of requirements, including those in respect of its safety and insurance arrangements and its nationality of control; for operators of larger aircraft with 20 or more seats, there are also financial criteria to be met.  The following pages include information about the different types of Operating Licence and the criteria for grant of these.  They also cover , which are granted to firms based in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Operators who hold Operating Licences are able to operate within the European Economic Area (EEA) without the need to hold further licences.  For operations beyond the EEA, they will normally need to hold one or more Route Licences, which are also granted by the CAA.

The legal framework for licensing is contained in a number of separate pieces of legislation, regulations and other sources.  This website contains links to those that are available online and gives some general guidance about their effect.  It also includes a list of current Operating Licence and Air Transport Licence holders, details of Route Licences held and details of recent Route Licence Decisions taken by the CAA.

The CAA will be pleased to answer any general queries you may have about the legal framework and its own publications. Contact Details


Guidance on airline licensing requirements including: