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What type of air service requires an operating licence?

Air carriers involved in the carriage by air of passengers, mail and/or cargo for remuneration and/or hire are required to hold a valid operating licence. Under Article 3 (3) of Regulation (EC) No. 1008/2008, the following air services are exempt from the requirement to hold an operating licence: (1) air services performed by non-power driven aircraft and/or ultralight power-driven aircraft and (2) local flights. No other exemptions to the requirement to hold an operating licence are allowed. 

What is the definition of Category A and Category B licence holders?

Category A licence holders are permitted to carry passengers, cargo and/or mail on aircraft with 20 seats or more and/or over 10 tonnes MTOM (maximum take-off mass).

Category B licence holders are permitted to carry passengers, cargo and/or mail on aircraft with fewer than 20 seats and/or less than 10 tonnes MTOM (maximum take-off mass).

What requirements do air carriers need to meet in order to secure and maintain an operating licence?

In order to qualify for an Operating Licence from the IAA, an applicant must satisfy certain requirements. These include the requirement to have its principal place of business in Ireland and its main occupation to be air transport. An applicant must also meet certain ownership and control requirements and provisions relating to insurance cover and financial fitness. 

Separately, in order to be granted an operating licence from the IAA, applicants must have, and for the duration of the Operating Licence maintain, a valid Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) which is also granted by the IAA. 

The IAA monitors compliance with the terms of the operating licence and the Licensing Regulation in a number of areas on a regular basis, including ongoing compliance with the requirements referred to above.

How do I check if my chosen air carrier holds a licence to carry passengers for hire/reward?

Before you fly or make travel arrangements, ensure your chosen air carrier is in possession of a valid operating licence and AOC for the service it is offering. Information on current Irish licence holders is available here.

For helicopter and small aircraft operators (Category B operators), you can also look out for our licence disc which should be displayed in the aircraft stating the name of the operator, their licence number and aircraft registration.

My air carrier has ceased trading/suspended operations. Can I get a refund?

The EU licensing regime for air carriers does not provide for a bonding scheme which would reimburse passengers who have paid for flights on a carrier which ceases trading. The likelihood of getting a refund will entirely depend on how you have paid for the flight in question and each individual case will be different. Passengers are advised to contact their credit/debit card companies, insurance providers and/or travel agent and tour operators, as appropriate. Depending on circumstances, the air carrier concerned may offer refunds or provide assistance to passengers. In such cases, the IAA will publish more detailed advice for passengers in line with the particular circumstances.

I have been offered a flight as a non-paying passenger by an operator of a light aircraft. Is this legal?

Yes. For non-paying passengers intending to take a flight with a General Aviation operator, the Irish Aviation Authority has published a Safety Leaflet (No. IGA 8) which highlights some important safety considerations for passengers.