Following the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 January, a transition period will apply until 31 December 2020. During this period, the UK and the aviation sector will continue to follow EU law and to participate in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) system. As a result, businesses and individuals operating in the UK should see no change to existing conditions during the transition period, while the longer-term UK-EU relationship on aviation is determined. Please see the homepage for further details.

A fuller outline of the position as the UK enters the transition period is available here.

While the respective positions outlined in the UK Government and EU negotiating mandates indicate what both sides want in terms of future agreements on air transport and aviation safety and security, the conditions that will exist after the end of the transition period are still uncertain. Given this uncertainty, the FAQ information below should not be regarded as exhaustive and will be subject to change.

As the UK-EU negotiations move forward and more information becomes available, the CAA will update these FAQs and notify stakeholders of the updates through the SkyWise alert system. If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to the EU exit category in the SkyWise system: skywise.caa.co.uk

If at the end of the transition period, there is no agreement in place between the UK Government and the EU on future trading arrangements then Airline Operating Licence and Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holders may need to take action to ensure they can continue to operate aircraft between the UK and the EU as currently. 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. 

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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.

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Would my UK AOC remain valid?

After UK participation in EASA ceases, then an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) issued to airlines by the UK CAA would remain valid for air services from the UK. (Please note that UK-issued AOCs might continue to display EASA references for a period until they are replaced – this reference does not impact their validity.)

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.

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

After UK participation in EASA ceases, 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 announced previously that it would accept 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.
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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 to maintain air transport connectivity on a reciprocal basis on the same basis as now until 31 December 2020.  The CAA will provide an update on the traffic rights that UK air carriers would retain to EU27 countries, both with and without a replacement Air Services Agreement, prior to 31 December 2020.

Cargo operations

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 to maintain air transport connectivity on a reciprocal basis on the same basis as now until 31 December 2020.  The CAA will provide an update on the traffic rights that UK air carriers would retain to EU27 countries, both with and without a replacement Air Services Agreement, prior to 31 December 2020.

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. In the interim, both the UK and EEA/EFTA have set out their respective polices to maintain air transport connectivity on a reciprocal basis on the same basis as now until 31 December 2020.

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. 

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

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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.

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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.

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

After UK participation in EASA ceases, 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.

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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. 

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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.

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

After UK participation in EASA ceases, all permissions, approvals, variations and exemptions (PAVEs) issued prior to this scenario coming into effect would continue to be recognised by the UK within the scope and terms of their issue. According to the European Commission’s previously 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.

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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.

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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.

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Would the requirements for consumer information and passenger rights remain the same?

Yes. Airlines would still 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 disrupted.

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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 end of the transition period would be retained in UK domestic legislation, 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: www.caa.co.uk/CAP747 

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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

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