Europe Region Blog
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  • Policy
1 December 2020

EU Exit – Q&A with the UK Civil Aviation Authority

With the EU and UK preparing to reach the end of the transition period 31 December, 2020, IATA’s UK office recently hosted an information session for member airlines with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The session was organised to ensure carriers are prepared for UK’s exit from the European Union and it focused on requirements for operating to the UK by way of permits, operating licenses, and Third Country Operators (TCOs) approvals.

The UK CAA’s David Kendrick (Head of Airline Licensing, CAA) outlined the changes that will come into effect from January as the EU becomes a third country under UK Law (just as the UK will become a third country under EU law).  Whilst negotiations between the UK and the EU are ongoing, the majority of changes will apply irrespective of whether or not a deal is in place.  


The UK will leave the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) system on 31 December, 2020 when the UK-EU ‘transition period’ ends. This will mean that mutual recognition of safety certificates and licences between the UK and European systems in a common framework will come to an end on that day unless an agreement on aviation safety regulation is negotiated by then.  EU States and the UK will of course still have acceptance obligations as signatories of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Though the existing EASA regulatory framework will cease to apply, all current substantive EU requirements will be retained in UK domestic regulation. David Kendrick reminded airlines that EASA certificates, approvals and licences in effect on 31 December 2020 for use in the UK aviation system and, for example, EU qualified pilots flying UK-registered aircraft, will be recognised by the CAA for up to two years. It is hoped this will provide some stability for both passengers and businesses.

Third Country Operators (TCOs) approvals

Currently, TCOs must hold a “Part-TCO”, from EASA prior to undertaking any commercial flight within the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA).  From January, the CAA will be taking over responsibility for administering all “Part-TCOs” in respect of commercial services undertaken within UK territory on the UK’s exit from the EU (a “UK-Part TCO”).  

  • For air carriers certified outside the EU27 or EFTA, the UK will continue to recognise any Part-TCO issued by EASA for a period of up to two years from the day of the UK’s Exit from the EU, or until that approval is replaced with a UK equivalent. The CAA will not consider any UK Part-TCO applications for operations within UK territory by air carriers certified outside the EU until after the UK’s exit.
  • For air carriers certified within the EU27 and EFTA, the CAA is now accepting advance applications from such air carriers for UK-Part TCO approvals. David Kendrick was pleased to note that all applications submitted to date have been approved and that systems for processing were working well.

Foreign Carrier Permits

All non-UK air carriers wishing to undertake commercial services to, from, or within the UK, are required to hold a Foreign Carrier Permit before that flight is commenced. From January, all non-UK carriers, including EEA and EFTA operators, will require a Foreign Carrier Permit before operating any commercial flight to, from, or within UK territory. 

The type of permit required is dependent on the nature of operations that are requested, and can be categorised into:

  • An Ad-Hoc Permit for a carrier operating for short-term, or one-off non-scheduled (charter) services
  • A Scheduled or Series Charter Permit is required for regular scheduled or series charter services.

Questions and Answers from the call

  • Foreign carrier permits for flights into the UK will apply for all freedoms of the air?

Currently permits will apply for 3rd and 4th freedoms as there are currently no further freedoms being negotiated. This is subject to discussion, so if that does change, then permits would be required for further freedoms. This does not apply for charter flights or for owner operator flights.

  • Is there agreement for the certification of airlines simulators in the UK (previously EASA certified)?

The UK will continue to recognise EASA certificates for two years. If a renewal is due within the next 24 months, then a UK approval will be required.

  • Is there a backlog of TCO applications?

No, every TCO application received should be issued. The UK has found that in some cases several people in an organisation might be applying for the same certificate, meaning that an application may have already been approved.

  • Due to Covid-19, airline schedules are changing often and at short notice – e.g. aircraft types, frequencies etc. Is there a process for informing the CAA of the changes?

The CAA understands that schedules are fluid at the moment, but they are encouraging airlines to say what schedules are ‘likely to be’. The good news for European carriers is that they will only have to apply for one, whereas UK carriers will have to apply for 27 permits.


Additional information:


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