• Route licences for airlines

    A route licence allows you to fly on routes either wholly or partly outside the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA consists of the member states of the EU plus Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.

    You must already hold an air operator certificate and an operating licence to apply for a route licence.

    Apply for a route licence

    To apply for a route licence complete form CPG 2901.

    You will need to send the completed form to:

    Airline Licensing and Consumer Issues
    Consumer Protection Group
    Civil Aviation Authority, K3
    CAA House
    45-59 Kingsway
    London WC2B 6TE

    Route Licences are granted by the CAA.

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

    If you have any queries or to discuss your application, please contact the CAA.

    Area covered by a Route Licence

    Despite their name, Route Licences do not normally cover just a single route.

    Usually, a Route Licence will permit any operations that are within the area permitted by the holder’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC), though there may be specific restrictions placed in specific circumstances.

    Designation by the Secretary of State

    Flights between the UK and countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are limited by bilateral Air Service Agreements.

    To operate scheduled commercial flights to a given country outside the EEA, an air carrier will need to be designated by the Secretary of State under the terms of the Air Service Agreement in place between the UK and the destination country, in addition to holding a Route Licence.

    The grant of a Route Licence does not guarantee designation by the Secretary of State.

    Statutory publication of applications and objections procedure

    There are statutory procedures for the processing of Route Licence applications, set out in The Civil Aviation Authority Regulations 1991 (as amended). These allow for the publication of an application and give an opportunity for objections to be made by licence holders or other interested parties.

    In normal circumstances the CAA will publish an application in its weekly Licensing Notices as soon as possible after receipt, allowing 21 days for objections to be made.

    If a valid objection is made, the matter has to be decided at a public hearing at which the applicant and objector are present.

    The CAA will reach a decision after the hearing and publish a written decision. Decisions made at previous hearings are available on the Decisions page.

    Although it aims to deliver decisions as quickly as possible, if a public hearing is required the process will normally take at least two months after the end of the objection period.

    Unopposed applications can be dealt with very quickly after the end of the objection period.