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International Economic Authority


The U.S. Air Carrier Licensing Division processes requests by U.S. airlines for authority to serve foreign markets using the procedures provided in 14 CFR Part 302, subparts B and C.  Under these procedures, a carrier may apply for authority to operate by exemption (valid for two years) or a longer-term certificate.

The Division uses simplified procedures to grant routine applications to serve countries with which a liberal aviation regime affords broad market access and conducts carrier selection proceedings where aviation rights are restricted by the number of U.S. carriers that may serve or the number of services U.S. carriers may provide on a weekly basis.

U.S. Air Carrier Frequency Allocations

Many of our aviation agreements restrict the number of scheduled services that U.S. carriers may provide between the United States and the foreign country involved or between the foreign country and third countries (fifth-freedom rights). The frequency restrictions may affect:

  • Direct services;
  • Code-share services (involving carriers of the same country);
  • Bilateral code-sharing arrangements (involving a carrier from the U.S. and a carrier from the foreign country involved); or
  • Third-country code-sharing arrangements (involving a U.S. carrier and a carrier from a third country); and/or
  • Overflights.

Carriers apply for frequency allocations under 14 CFR Part 302, Subpart C. If more U.S. carriers seek frequencies than are available, then the Department must allocate the frequencies among the U.S. carriers using comparative selection procedures. Under these procedures each applicant is afforded the opportunity to present written evidence as to why it should be allocated the frequencies it seeks and to file comments on the other carrier applications before the Department makes its selection(s).

Where the frequencies are allocated using the comparative selection procedures described above, the Department generally first issues a tentative decision on the allocation (a “show-cause order”), to which interested parties may comment, and after review of those comments, issues a final decision.

U.S. Air Carrier Charter Allocations

Some of the bilateral aviation agreements between the United States and foreign countries limit the number of passenger, combination, and/or all-cargo charters that carriers may operate. It has been the Department’s policy to distribute the available charters to interested U.S. airlines on a “first-come, first-served” basis unless and until it is demonstrated that there is greater demand than supply of charters.

Under a “first-come, first-served” allocation, interested carriers apply by letter to the Department and the Department allocates the charters to the carrier by issuing a “Notice of Consistency” which describes the charters involved and the time-frame during which they would be performed, and notes that the award is “consistent” with the aviation agreement between the countries. That notice is transmitted to the carrier and the appropriate government officials in the foreign country.

If carriers are interested in operating more charters than are available, then the Department must use comparative selection procedures to determine how the charters should be allocated among the interested carriers.

Streamlined Procedures

We have instituted a number of streamlining measures to reduce regulatory burdens and paperwork.  U.S. air carriers may take advantage of the following measures, if they meet the stated criteria:

  • U.S. air carriers holding scheduled international authority may obtain a “blanket” open-skies certificate allowing the carrier to serve any current or future open-skies partner of the United States without the need for additional DOT licensing.  We maintain a list of open-skies partners that carriers may serve under the blanket certificate. Carriers, holding this form of certificate, are relieved of the burden of applying for new exemption or certificate authority to serve open-skies markets and of the need to seek renewal of authority on a market-by-market basis, along with the associated application fees.  (See Notice issued April 3, 2007, in Docket DOT-OST-2007-27790; and Notice issued November 28, 2007 in Dockets DOT-OST-2005-22228 and DOT-OST-2007-0084.)
  • U.S. air carriers may obtain consolidated licenses for non-open-skies markets.  Carriers may replace a myriad of licenses of varying duration and terms with a single certificate, making for enhanced administrative efficiency.  (See Notice issued February 13, 2009, in Docket DOT-OST-2005-22228.)
  • We have developed a new form of certificate for “blanket” route integration, that allows carriers to combine their international route authorities in a way that eliminates the need for separate route applications.  (See Notice issued August 26, 2005, in Docket DOT-OST-2005-22228; and subsequent invitation notice issued November 28, 2007, in Dockets DOT-OST-2005-22228 and DOT-OST-2007-0084.  See also August 27, 2010 invitation to carriers to seek renewal for an indefinite term.)
  • U.S. air carriers may submit “blanket” notices of new code-sharing services in open-skies markets, to replace market-by-market notices.  (See undocketed February 9, 2009 Notice.)
  • We have introduced streamlined licensing procedures for U.S. air carriers serving or wishing to serve U.S.-Mexico city-pair markets.  The streamlined procedures provide a more transparent, centralized, and user-friendly approach to licensing in the highly restrictive U.S.-Mexico environment, and will enhance industry and public awareness of newly-available route opportunities, pending requests, and our action on those requests.  (See Order 2012-1-30, issued January 31, 2012, in Dockets DOT-OST-2011-0076 and DOT-OST-2005-22228.)
Illustration of Plane Flying Around the World