+1 (202) 747 5212

Washington, DC

(in nearby Maryland suburbs)

Airline Licensing

Home Practice Areas Airline Licensing

The U.S. Department of Transportation licenses both U.S. and foreign airlines to perform air transportation. The Federal Aviation Administration, responsible for aviation safety, issues an operating certificate (for U.S. carriers) and operations specifications (for both U.S. and foreign carriers). Limits on international traffic rights often raise complex diplomatic and legal issues.

DOT subjects new U.S. airlines to public scrutiny over their fitness and U.S. citizenship. That scrutiny continues, generally in a non-public setting, for a U.S. airline’s lifetime. The Firm has extensive experience in supporting U.S. airlines through these processes.

Cutaway diagram of aircraft during boarding
Illustration of notional baggage tags

Firm Expertise

For U.S. airlines:

  • Obtaining initial DOT certification for new entrants
  • Continuing fitness investigations
  • Expanding U.S. carrier authority through competitive DOT route proceedings and certificate transfers
  • "Provision of aircraft with crew" by foreign airlines (special approval)
  • For Foreign airlines:

  • Obtaining DOT permits and exemptions
  • Obtaining special authority for limited operations
  • For both U.S. and foreign airlines:

  • Pursuing wet-lease and code-share approvals
  • Analyzing international traffic rights and treaty obligations
  • Managing route authority and other DOT allocations
  • Embargoes affecting air service (esp. Cuba and Venezuela)
  • Public charter licensing

    Drone/UAV licensing