News

Important actions to ensure continuity of your flights to the UK

Published on

February 25, 2019

As an EU27 or EFTA operator you currently benefit from an exemption that allows you to undertake UK commercial operations without prior approval provided that the points served are all within the boundaries of the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA).

That exemption will be withdrawn as part of the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) as the UK will no longer be part of the ECAA. Thereafter any commercial charter or scheduled flight (cargo or passenger) undertaken by EU27 and EFTA carrier flights to, from, within or via the United Kingdom will require a Foreign Carrier Permit (Permit) before they can be performed. Such Permits are granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in accordance with the policy set by the Department for Transport (DfT).

This email alert sets out the basis on which Permits are granted, the application process and the actions you must take to ensure continuity, where traffic rights permit, of your existing operations.

If you undertake commercial services from the UK to points outside the ECAA you may already benefit from a current Foreign Carrier Permit or have previously held one. Whilst you may therefore already be familiar with the principles of the Permit application process, there are several changes, particularly around the need to hold a UK Part TCO (see below), that you will need to take into consideration.

UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) 

On 29 March 2017, the UK Government announced its intention for the UK to withdraw from the EU.

When will this occur? 

The UK Government has reached a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU over the terms and timeline of its withdrawal. That Agreement is now pending ratification by the UK and the EU and provides for a transition period until December 2020 (which could be extended further by agreement). During any transition period, if agreed, EU law would still be applicable to and in the UK, and the UK would still be subject to EU-negotiated Air Transport Agreements (which include the ECAA Agreement), so no Permit for ECAA operations or to Switzerland would be needed. In the absence of such a transition period, EU law and EU-negotiated Air Transport Agreements would no longer apply to the UK when it leaves the EU; which is currently at 24.00 CET on Friday, 29 March 2019.

Traffic rights – European Union 

To ensure continuity when the UK departs the EU, the Government is seeking to negotiate arrangements with the EU27 (as a bloc, or individually) to cover reciprocal UK – EU operations. In the absence of such agreement(s) the DfT has stated that each application for the grant of traffic rights for an EU27 operator will be considered on its respective merits based on reciprocity for UK carriers.

Traffic rights – External to the European Union 

To again ensure continuity on departure, the DfT has also negotiated replacement air service arrangements with countries whose services with the UK are currently covered by EU-negotiated Agreements. These include the USA, Canada, Switzerland and Israel, with a series of other arrangements still being negotiated and concluded. These replacement arrangements would come into effect once the relevant EU agreement ceases to apply to the UK on its departure from the EU.

These replacement arrangements are of a bilateral nature, they will not automatically apply to either EU27 or EFTA air carriers. The DfT will consider any application for traffic rights from EU27/EFTA carriers from the UK under those agreements on their individual merits.

Foreign Carrier Permit Applications 

The CAA issues two types of Foreign Carrier Permit:

  • a seasonal Permit which covers scheduled operations (usually based on the bi-annual IATA winter and summer seasons) or series charter operations. These permits being valid only for the season or period to which they were granted for.
  • ad-hoc charter permits covering either one, or a short series of flights which are granted as required.

Note that private or state flights, or those undertaken for non-revenue purposes, such as positioning, will still be allowed to be undertaken without a Permit needing to be held.

Whilst discussions are still ongoing as to the future UK – ECAA arrangements, which may include the transition period outlined above, you are strongly advised to apply for a Permit as soon as possible to ensure operational continuity.

Please note that if you do not hold a Permit or UK Part TCO (see below) prior to the UK’s exit from the EU then you will not be able to continue any existing service until they are granted. 

Foreign Carrier Permit Application Process 

Applications should be completed using the application form that can be downloaded from here provide copies of the following documents:

  • The proposed UK flight schedule for the summer season (31 March to 26 October 2019 inclusive) – this should include details of frequencies and capacity offered. The attached Excel sheet should be used to submit this information (note that this information should be retained as an Excel sheet).
  • A copy of the flight schedule for the equivalent the summer 2018 IATA season – this should include details of frequencies and capacity offered. The attached Excel sheet should be used to submit this information (note that this information should be retained as an Excel sheet).
  • Details of the registration (tail numbers) and aircraft types of all aircraft planned to be operated to and from the UK;
  • Copy insurance certificates for all the aircraft it is planned to operate;

Please note you should NOT provide copies of any additional documents (such as Airworthiness Certificates, Noise Certificates or Radio Licences).

Administration Fee 

Applications for a Foreign Operator Permit incur a £78 administration fee, payable by debit or credit card. This administrative fee covers the cost incurred by the CAA in processing your application. Payment can be made either by completing the payment slip Payment Authorisation Form, or over the telephone. If you wish to provide card details by phone, please indicate that you wish to pay by that method and you will be contacted when payment is required.
Note that the payment is non-refundable.

UK Part TCO Application Process 

Currently, in accordance with Commission Regulation (EU) No. 452/2014, all Third Country Operators are required to hold an approval, known as a “Part-TCO”, from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) prior to undertaking any commercial flight within the ECAA. This will mean that following EU exit UK air carriers will be required to hold an EASA TCO before they undertake such activities.

This Regulation will be retained in UK law under the UK’s continuity arrangements, and the CAA will have responsibility for administering all TCOs in respect of commercial services undertaken within UK territory on the UK’s exit from the EU. The CAA will therefore be required to ensure that all foreign air carriers hold a UK Part TCO prior to undertaking any commercial flight within UK territory.

The CAA wishes to ensure that the minimum possible regulatory burden is placed on air carriers in bringing in this requirement. It has therefore developed a streamlined process for EU27/EFTA carriers. A UK Part TCO will be valid for up to two years from the date of grant.

The UK Part TCO application form for EU27 carriers can be found here which should be completed as instructed and submitted with a copy of the company’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and the associated operation specifications. There is no administration fee due if a UK TCO application is made prior to 29 March 2019.

The UK Part TCO application form for EU27 carriers can be found here which should be completed as instructed and submitted with a copy of the company’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and the associated operation specifications. There is no administration fee due if a UK TCO application is made prior to 29 March 2019.

Application Deadline 

Applications for a Foreign Carrier Permit or a UK-Part TCO should be sent by email to foreigncarrierpermits@caa.co.uk as soon as possible. The Foreign Carrier Permit and UK Part-TCO will both come into force on the day the UK exits the EU which is currently set as Friday, 29 March 2019. You will appreciate there are ongoing discussions by the DfT with the European Commission which may have an impact on the planned issue date.

Please do not delay in submitting your application even if you do not have all the information as this may delay it being processed. 

The CAA will acknowledge the receipt of all applications and will contact you if we require additional information. 

If you have any queries in relation to the above then please do not hesitate to contact the British CAA at foreigncarrierpermits@caa.co.uk

European Commission’s Notice to Stakeholders on Aviation Safety (18 Jan. 2019): here

Need more information ?

Please contact David Grivet at dgrivet@ebaa.org