If no deal for leaving the EU is agreed between the EU and the UK, Airline Operating Licence and Air Operator’s Certificates (AOC) holders operating in and out of the UK would need to take action to ensure they can continue to operate aircraft as they currently do. This page sets out areas that you need to consider to prepare for such an eventuality. Note that individual circumstances would vary and are a matter for each business and individual to consider.  You may need to discuss your individual circumstances with us directly.

Would my company’s Operating Licence remain valid?

Yes. This licence is issued by the UK CAA and would remain in force provided the holder continues to meet the relevant grant criteria. Note that the basis on which ownership and control is governed would change. 


Would my Route Licence remain valid?

If you already hold a Route Licence this would remain in force provided you continue to qualify for an Operating Licence.


Would my UK AOC remain valid?

As of the withdrawal date, an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) issued to airlines by the UK CAA would remain valid for air services from the UK. UK issued AOCs may continue to display EASA references beyond the EU exit date.

We do not anticipate any additional action required for UK airlines operating in and out of the UK with a UK CAA-issued AOC.

If you currently rely on more extensive freedoms, such as flying within EU 27 member states, we recommend you speak to the CAA’s Airline Licensing team as soon as possible.


Do UK operators require an EASA Part TCO to continue to fly into the EU?

 Once the UK has left the EU, airlines with UK Air Operators Certificates (AOCs) would be considered 'third country' operators (TCOs).

TCOs require a safety authorisation from EASA in accordance with the requirements of Commission Regulation (EU) 452/2014 to operate within the European Common Aviation Area.

EASA has announced that it is accepting TCO applications from UK AOC holders and has adopted a streamlined process for UK carriers. Details on that process and a link to the application form are available here: https://www.easa.europa.eu/brexit

Note: you will not be able to undertake commercial operations to, from or within the European Common Aviation Area without an EASA TCO.

Would UK airlines have access to European markets?

Services to EU27 countries

The UK and EU intend to negotiate a comprehensive Air Services Agreement as soon as possible. In the interim, both the UK and EU have set out their respective polices, in the event of a non-negotiated withdrawal, to maintain air transport connectivity on a reciprocal basis until March 2020. To provide more certainty for consumers and industry, the UK also proposes to extend the period for which these contingency measures apply to cover the 2020 IATA summer season (which lasts until 24 October 2020), for air services between the UK and the EU. This proposal remains subject to reciprocity by the EU.

UK air carriers would be able to overfly and make technical stops in the EU without restriction. They would also be entitled to operate commercial air transport services between any pair of UK and EU points (3rd and 4th freedoms) until 31 March 2020 or, if reciprocity is offered, 24 October 2020, or until a new Air Service Agreement comes into force.

Cargo operations

UK air carriers would be able to undertake all-cargo services from the UK to an EU country and on to a country outside the EU (5th freedom) until 31 March 2020. Such cargo flights would be capped at the levels operated by a UK carrier in 2018 on a pro-rata basis. Should the EU Regulation be amended to reflect summer 2019 frequencies then the UK intends to reciprocate.

UK carriers wishing to continue to operate services to EU27 Member States after the UK’s withdrawal would need to obtain individual approval from the State concerned. They are advised to contact the NAA of that State (or equivalent) to commence that process. A list of initial points of contact can be found here: European Licensing Authorities Contact List 

Full details of the UK’s policy can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/air-services-from-the-eu-to-the-uk-in-the-event-of-no-deal#all-cargo-services-beyond-the-uk 

Services to EEA/EFTA countries outside the EU

The UK is negotiating comprehensive Air Services Agreement with those States that are part of EEA/EFTA (but not the EU27) which would allow commercial air transport services between any points in those States and any in the UK (3rd and 4th freedoms) to continue.

Services to countries beyond the EU/EEA/EFTA

The majority of the UK’s Air Service Agreements are unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. UK carriers would no longer automatically have access to traffic rights under the EU’s air service agreements with other states. The Department for Transport (DfT) has replaced, or is in the process of replacing, any EU Air Service Agreements on which UK air carriers rely. These include Air Service Agreements with Canada and the United States.

Further information can be sought from the International Aviation Team at DfT or on this page: www.gov.uk/transport/air-routes


Would the ownership and control requirements of UK airlines be affected?

The way the legal and regulatory framework for ownership and control is being transposed into UK law means that the requirement to be majority-owned and effectively controlled by EU nationals would change, since that definition would no longer apply to UK nationals. Going forward nationality restrictions would no longer be part of the Operating Licence but would be governed through a Route Licence.

UK carriers which currently undertake air services between the UK and third countries outside the EEA already hold such a licence. For others this would be a new mandatory requirement. The CAA has written to all UK Operating Licence holders to explain this, and the process for obtaining one if not currently held. Should carriers not meet the UK nationality test, then the Secretary of State has the power to grant or approve the retention of such a licence.

All previously issued Operating and Route Licences would remain valid, including circumstances where an existing licence holder is currently majority owned or effectively controlled by qualifying EEA, as opposed to UK, nationals under the current regulations.

Carriers that currently do not have a Route Licence would need to apply for one to the CAA. The process for doing so has been set out in a recent letter from the CAA to all existing licence holders.


Would the ownership and control requirements of EU airlines be affected?

To obtain and keep an EU 27 operating licence and benefit from the intra-EU air traffic rights, air carriers must comply at all times with the conditions under Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 on air services.

The conditions include the need to be majority owned and effectively controlled by EU Member States and/or nationals of EU Member States. If these conditions are no longer fulfilled because of the UK leaving EU, the Operating Licence at issue would no longer be valid.


Would EU27/EFTA operators become third country operators? - (UK Part TCO)

After the UK formally leaves the EU an airline based in an EU or EFTA member state would require a Third Country Operator (TCO) certificate from the CAA before operating any commercial flight to or within UK territory.

The CAA wishes to ensure that the minimum possible regulatory burden is placed on air carriers in bringing in this requirement.  While each application will be considered individually, the CAA will be prepared in principle to grant a UK TCO to any EU27/EFTA carrier that holds a valid EASA AOC for all of the aircraft that it intends to operate in the UK.

The UK Part TCO application form and guidance can be found here.

A list of issued UK Part TCO’s can be found here.

There is no administration fee due if a UK TCO application is made prior to March 30, 2019.

See also Foreign Carrier Permit pages on the CAA website.

If you have any queries in relation to the above then please do not hesitate to contact us either by email or on 00 44 (0) 207 453 6333.


Would the arrangements for wet-leasing aircraft outside the UK remain the same?

Yes. The legislation translating EU law into UK law under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 provides continuity for approving wet-leases of aircraft from the EU and from the rest of the world. 


Would the arrangements for EU airlines wishing to wet-lease UK aircraft remain the same?

Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 on air services concerning the use of ‘third country’ registered aircraft means EU aircraft operators intending to wet-lease aircraft registered in the United Kingdom would be bound by the corresponding provisions relating to such aircraft.

Airlines should consider the impact of this change on their operations. Please contact CAA’s Airline Licensing Team for further advice.


Would other UK CAA Flight Operations permissions, approvals, variations and exemptions continue to be recognised?

All permissions, approvals, variations and exemptions (PAVEs) issued prior to withdrawing from the EU would continue to be recognised by the UK within the scope and terms of their issue. According to the European Commission’s current, publicly-declared position, CAA-issued PAVEs would no longer be recognised by EU member states, however they would retain validity under UK law.

Entities with a UK-issued PAVE seeking to conduct activities within the scope/terms of their PAVE within an EU member state should contact EASA as soon as possible or the appropriate competent authority to understand the requirements of that specific state.


Would aviation security search and screening arrangements for passengers and their bags remain the same?

The EU has stated that it will recognise UK passenger and baggage screening. This means that security screening requirements for passengers on direct flights between the UK and the EU will remain as they are today. Passengers flying from the UK will continue to be able to transfer at an EU airport for an onward flight without experiencing additional security rescreening procedures.


Would security arrangements for cargo and mail remain the same?

The EU has passed legislation recognising the UK cargo security regime as equivalent in one-stop-security terms after the withdrawal date, meaning that cargo can continue to fly from the UK to the EU without a security designation. Equally, the UK intends to recognise EU cargo security and will not require new cargo security designations for carriers from EU airports.

The UK would continue to recognise existing EU ACC3 designations and those of the validated secure supply chains for the purposes of in-bound cargo to the UK. The CAA has published further details of the UK-ACC3 scheme and designation criteria here.


Would the requirements for consumer information remain the same?

Once the UK has left the EU airlines would be required to meet their existing obligations under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 and the ATOL regulations.

Airlines should consider how to best ensure that customers are aware of their rights when buying flight tickets and holidays and how to pursue them if services are interrupted.


How would the UK’s exit from the EU affect the application of Airworthiness Directives for the UK-registered aircraft that I own, operate or manage?

All EU regulations applicable at the point of UK exit would be retained in UK domestic legislation in a no-deal scenario, including Regulation (EU) No 1321/2014, Part M. This means owners, operators and Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisations (CAMOs) would continue to review and apply applicable Airworthiness Directives to their respective fleets based on requirements for the aircraft and its engines, propellers and equipment as set out in CAP 747 Mandatory Requirements for Airworthiness, Airworthiness Directives issued or adopted by EASA, plus any Airworthiness Directives notified by the State of Design.

You can view CAP 747 here: http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP747_21JUL17_BM.pdf


Some of the regulation references in CAP 747 have been repealed, typically references to Regulation (EU) 216/2008 concerning EASA and non-EASA aircraft. Where can I find the latest information?

The CAA is aware that CAP 747 currently has some out-of-date references and is in the process of updating the document. Reference to superseded or amended regulations should be taken to mean the current version of the applicable regulation in force. The CAA will ensure any mandatory requirements for UK-registered aircraft are reflected within CAP 747 and also made available via the CAA website Airworthiness Directive page. For enquiries relating to ADs, please email ad.unit@caa.co.uk