Official Record Series 1 - Part 3: Air Transport Licences


Legal Framework
Types and classes of Air Transport Licences
Exemptions from Air Transport Licensing
Criteria for grant and retention of Air Transport Licences

Standard conditions and provisions in Air Transport Licences
Continuing requirements for Air Transport Licence holders

Policies and procedures in relation to Air Transport Licensing


1. Air operators which are registered or have their principal place of business in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, both of which are outside the EEA, are not eligible under the Council Licensing Regulation to hold Operating Licences and do not benefit from the general access to intra-EEA routes conferred by the Licensing Regulation.  Channel Islands and Isle of Man-based firms which operate UK-registered aircraft generally need instead to hold Air Transport Licences (ATLs) though there are some exemptions from this need.


2. The legal provisions in relation to ATLs are contained in Sections 64-70 of the Act, which was not amended by the Licensing of Air Carriers Regulations in respect of operators based or registered in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.  TYPES AND CLASSES OF AIR TRANSPORT LICENCE

3. There are two kinds of ATL:

  • the basic ATL is similar to an Operating Licence in being an entry requirement.  In addition, it authorises flights, without any restriction on the type of service, within the scope of the Licensing Regulation;  to and within the Channel Islands (though permits from the relevant Island may be needed);  to and from the Isle of Man;  and to offshore oil and gas installations. 
  • for flights beyond this area, an Air Transport Route Licence, which is similar to the Route Licences granted to Operating Licence holders, is required.  These are granted only to holders of basic ATLs, and like Route Licences can authorise the carriage of passengers, cargo or mail (or any combination of these) worldwide, though they may contain restrictions in specific circumstances.  As with Route Licences, there are two classes – 

Scheduled Licences authorise flights where at least some of the capacity is sold direct to the public without the involvement of a charterer.

Charter Licences authorise flights where all the capacity on the aircraft is sold to one or more charterers for resale.

4. The form of ATLs and the Standard Conditions applicable to them are at Schedule 5.


5. Section 64(2)(a) of the Act permits the CAA to exempt services from the need to hold an ATL. 

6. Through the instrument at Schedule 6, the CAA has exempted the following categories of flights using aircraft registered in the UK:

  • “round trip” flights that begin and end at the same place, or to places (like the grounds of sporting events) that are not airports;
  • “sole use” charter flights anywhere in the world except to offshore oil or gas installations, where all the space is sold to one charterer who does not re-sell any seats or cargo space;
  • by a hot air balloon or airship;
  • flights operated by firms based outside the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man which take place wholly outside that area;  and
  • flights operated by firms based outside the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man using aircraft registered in an overseas territory [12].

7. The CAA may also grant specific exemptions for a particular flight or series of flights.


8. The CAA’s statutory objectives and duties and its policies on Route Licensing, referred to in Part 2, relate equally to ATLs.  There are however additional criteria, set out below, for grant and retention of ATLs because matters such as financial resources, which are criteria for the grant of Operating Licences and do not therefore form part of Route Licences, have to be incorporated into the ATL process. 

Financial Resources

9. Section 65(2)(b) of the Act requires the CAA to refuse any ATL unless it is satisfied that the applicant’s financial resources and arrangements are adequate in relation to his existing and proposed business.  The CAA in general adopts the same approach to this requirement as it does to the financial criteria in relation to Operating Licences, set out in Part 1;  it cannot refrain altogether from intervening in the finances of operators of small aircraft as it can with Operating Licences, but it has exempted air taxi operators (which represent the majority of small aircraft operations) from licensing.  For those that are not exempt, the extent to which the CAA intervenes will depend on the scale of the operation and the objectives set out in Part 1.

Liability and Insurance

10. Operators based outside the EEA are not affected by the Council Air Carrier Liability Regulation.  ATL holders are however required by a licence condition to enter into a special contract with each passenger, as provided by the Warsaw Convention of 1929 as amended at The Hague in 1955, and the Montreal Convention of 1999 to the effect that their liability in respect of each passenger is not less than the Sterling equivalent of 100,000 Special Drawing Rights, exclusive of costs.  A further licence condition requires ATL holders to inform passengers before the flight about liability.

11. The CAA requires the same levels of passenger and third party insurance cover for holders of ATLs are as those for holders of Operating Licences.  The levels for different categories of operation are set out at Annex 2.


12. The CAA is required by Section 65(2)(a) of the Act to be satisfied before granting an ATL that the applicant is a fit person.  It must revoke any licence if it ceases to be satisfied in this respect.

Nationality of Control

13. The CAA is required by Section 65(3) of the Act to be satisfied before granting an ATL that the applicant is controlled by United Kingdom nationals, and to refer an application to the Secretary of State if it is not satisfied.  It is required to inform the Secretary of State if it ceases to be satisfied that any licence holder is UK controlled.

Air Operator’s Certificate

14. The CAA’s normal practice is not to grant an ATL unless the applicant holds an AOC, and to suspend a licence if the licence holder ceases to hold an AOC.


15. Schedule 5 sets out the Standard Conditions applicable to ATLs, which are summarised below:

  • Condition A has the effect of requiring operators to provide information to passengers, before they contract to travel, about the operator, the type of aircraft and the destination airport.
  • Condition B replicates the provision in Regulation 11(1) of the Licensing of Air Carriers Regulations which prohibits Operating Licence holders from making available flight accommodation for resale in the United Kingdom unless they are satisfied that the buyer or agent complies with the ATOL Regulations.
  • Condition C requires ATL holders to enter into special contracts for higher liability to passengers, as set out in the section on Liability and Insurance;
  • Condition D requires them to inform passengers about liability limits.
  • Condition E replicates the provision in Regulation 11(1) of the Licensing of Air Carriers Regulations which requires Operating Licence holders to ensure that on football charter fights each passenger holds a ticket for admission to the match.

16. The Standard Tariff Provisions relating to ATLs are the same as those for Route Licences at Schedule 4.


Monitoring Information

17. The CAA requires holders of ATLs to provide to it similar information to that provided by Operating Licence holders, described in Part 1 and listed in Annex 3

Fares Regulation

18. The CAA’s policies on the regulation of fares are set out in its Statement of Policies.  The holder of an ATL may be required to file certain fares and related conditions for approval by the CAA and the licensing authority at the other end of the route, for example in accordance with any relevant Air Services Agreement.  In general, the CAA does not require the filing of fares between points within the area comprising the EEA, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, or other markets where air services have been liberalised.  These markets are listed in the Standard Tariff Provisions set out in Schedule 4.  Where filing is required, the CAA will advise individual licence holders about how and what to file.


19. The CAA collects operating statistics from all holders of ATLs on the same basis as for Type A Operating Licences.  Exempted firms do not need to provide statistics.


20. The provisions of the CAA Regulations govern the procedures in relation to ATLs.  The detailed procedures relating to Air Transport Licensing are the same as those for Route Licensing set out in Annex 7.


21. CAA charges for ATL holders are the same as those for holders of Operating Licences.  The current charges are in the Scheme of Charges at Schedule 1.  There is no application charge.






[12] Overseas territories are those listed in the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2001.