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 (see below).

Depending on the EU withdrawal negotiations, the holder of an Operating Licence would no longer hold traffic rights allowing flights between EU27 or EEA Member States which did not either originate or end in the UK.


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.


Would we be considered third country operators?

Once the UK has left the EU, airlines with UK Air Operators Certificates (AOC) 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 in to operate within the European Common Aviation Area..

EASA has now announced that it accepting TCO applications from UK AOC holders and that it will adopt a streamlined process for UK carriers. Details on that process and a link to the application form are available here:



Would we retain the same levels of market access?

UK carriers would no longer automatically have access to traffic rights under the EU’s air service agreements with other states. This would include the Air Service Agreements with Canada and the United States.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is negotiating air service agreements and advising on contingencies in case they are not agreed before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Further information can be sought from the Technology and International Aviation Team at DfT.


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.

Please contact CAA’s Airline Licensing Team for further information.


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

The UK is due to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019. After this date, if you are an airline based in an EU or EFTA member state, you 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 intend to operate in the UK.

The UK Part TCO application form and guidance 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?

The legislation translating EU law into UK law under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 intends to provide continuity for approving wet-leases of aircraft from the EU and from the rest of the world. No action is required.


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.


*UPDATE: 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.


*UPDATE: Would security arrangements for cargo and mail remain the same?

The EU has stated that it intends to recognise the UK cargo security regime as equivalent 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 ACC3 designations and the validated secure supply chains for the purposes of inbound cargo to the UK.


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.