The CAA’s Licensing of Airlines in the UK (Official Record Series 1) contains comprehensive guidance about the framework and criteria for granting Operating Licences, Route Licences and Air Transport Licences
The CAA’s Licensing of Airlines in the UK (Official Record Series 1) contains comprehensive guidance about the framework and criteria for granting Operating Licences, Route Licences and Air Transport Licences. It also contains the legal instruments that the CAA publishes in relation to the licences it grants. It does not however deal with other authorisations granted by the CAA, including the Air Operator’s Certificate which relates to safety standards.
The version of the Official Record Series 1 currently in force can be reached by the links below to the respective parts and Schedules. As a general rule, any person or firm based in the UK who operates an aircraft and carries passengers or cargo on it for remuneration needs an Operating Licence granted by the CAA. This applies irrespective of the registration of the aircraft used (though in normal circumstances airlines licensed by the CAA are required to use UK-registered aircraft) and there are very few exceptions to the rule. There are set criteria for grant of an Operating Licence.
For flights within the European Union (and slightly beyond it), an operator that holds an Operating Licence does not need any further licence or permit, either from the CAA or from any other country it serves. For flights by UK-registered aircraft outside this area, air operators may also need one or more Route Licences. Despite their name, Route Licences normally permit operations between any combination of points anywhere in the world, subject to the terms of the licence holder's Air Operator's Certificate rather than on specific routes, though they can contain exclusions; possession of the necessary Route Licence is not necessarily sufficient authorisation to operate scheduled services on any particular route, since licence holders must also be designated under the terms of the bilateral Air Service Agreement between the UK and the State to which its is intended to operate. Details about Route Licensing and exemptions from Route Licensing are set out in Part 2.
Airlines that are based or registered outside the European Union but operate UK-registered aircraft, which in practice are usually those based in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, are not eligible to hold either Operating Licences or Route Licences. They need to hold Air Transport Licences, which have broadly the same effect as the combination of an Operating Licence and a Route Licence.
On some routes between the UK and countries outside the single European aviation market, the Air Services Agreement between the UK and a foreign government may limit the traffic rights available in terms of the number of carriers that each side can designate, the routes those carriers operate, and the frequency or capacity they can offer. Where there are insufficient traffic rights to accommodate the demands of all UK-designated carriers, which may include Community carriers established but not licensed in the UK, the CAA may be required to determine how those rights should be allocated, through the grant of Scarce Capacity Allocation Certificates.