If you are based in the UK, you will need an Operating Licence from the CAA in order to operate most kinds of
commercial air travel.
Materials for making an application for an airline licence can be found in our online airline licence application
Full details of licensing requirements and the legal background are available in the publications and legislation
section of this site. This page presents summaries of key information.
Please contact the CAA with any queries or to discuss your application.
Airline licensing reflects the nature, ownership and financial health of a business, not
operational safety. Operational safety is assessed under the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) scheme.
All commercial air carriers based in the European Economic Area (EEA; see below) are required to hold an Operating
Licence . In the UK, these are issued by the CAA.
An Operating Licence can only be granted to applicants who hold a valid AOC.
Holders of Operating Licences are able to fly on almost all routes within the EEA, and are also able to apply for
Route Licences for flights outside the EEA.
A Route Licence is required in order for EEA-based carriers to operate commercial air travel outside the EEA.
To operate flights outside the EEA, air carriers will also need to be designated by the Secretary of State under the
terms of the Air Services Agreement in place between the UK and the destination country.
Further information about Route Licences.
To qualify for an Operating Licence, applicants must be able to demonstrate that:
For operators of aircraft with 20 or more seats there are also financial requirements.
Licence holders will also be subject to continuing monitoring by the CAA.
Further information about Operating Licences.
Air Service Agreements limit the number of flights on a given route and may give rise to Scarce Capacity. If this
happens, rights to operate flights will be allocated to airlines by the CAA.
Air operators based outside the EEA require a Foreign Carrier Permit from the CAA before operating flights to, from
or within the UK.
Further information about Foreign Carrier Permits.
The CAA’s list of current licence holders is available on the Licence Holders page of this website.
The CAA sometimes has to make decisions about the allocation of scarce capacity and objections to Route Licence or
Air Transport Licence applications.
Details of judgements can be found in the Decisions section of this site.
The EEA consists of all EU Member States along with several other countries. The full list of states in the EEA is
as follows: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany,
Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway,
Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom (except the Channel Islands and the
Isle of Man).
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