Use the Lexology Navigator tool to compare the answers in this article with those from other jurisdictions.    

Air carrier operations

Operating authorisation

What procedural and documentary requirements must air carriers meet in order to operate in your jurisdiction? 

As Germany is an EU member state, EU Regulation 1008/2008 applies to and governs licensed activities.

Under the regulation, air carriers from EEA member states are entitled to operate flights within the European Union. No special application or notification is required. This also applies to air carriers from Switzerland.

However, the regulation does not apply to the following undertakings:

  • foreign carriers based outside the European Economic Area; and

  • carriers based in Germany that operate round-trips or carry passengers or cargo by hot air balloon.

Pursuant to Article 15 of EU Regulation 1008/2008, air carriers from EEA member states and Switzerland are authorised to exercise the right to operate on routes within the European Union and are no longer required to submit a separate application.

In respect of scheduled air traffic, air carriers from non-EEA member states must obtain an operating licence from the Civil Aviation Office (LBA) before commencing scheduled air services from and to Germany. Foreign carriers must provide the following when applying for permission to operate in Germany:

  • articles of association;

  • excerpt from the Commercial Register;

  • latest annual report or details on the board of management and the composition of the capital;

  • flight schedule (code share flights only);

  • a complete list of the fleet with details of the capacity of each aircraft, including:

  • a leasing contract (if necessary);

  • a certificate of registration;

  • a certificate of airworthiness; and

  • a noise certificate;

  • an operating permit questionnaire, including proof of maintenance of the aircraft in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation;

  • third-party legal liability insurance;

  • liability insurance covering damage to persons, baggage, cargo and damage caused by delay;

  • declaration of the authorised appointed recipient;

  • air operator certificate with a validity of at least one year;

  • designation of the air carrier by the government of the state of registry for scheduled air services between the state of registry and Germany or vice versa;

  • an estimate of expected traffic volume on the planned route for the first year of operation;

  • aviation security plan; and

  • in case of carrying cargo or mail: ACC3-designation according to EU Regulation 300/2008 for third-country airports that do not have equivalent security standards

Entry permission must be requested for commercial flights of non-EEA air carriers to and from Germany.

The permission for entry will be granted only if the state registry of the air carrier submitting the application grants entry to German air carriers in the same way (reciprocity clause).

The following documents must be provided (in German or English) together with the application form:

  • charter agreement;

  • operating licence, including air operator certificate with operation specifications (eg, aircraft listing);

  • third-party legal liability insurance;

  • liability insurance covering damage to persons, baggage, cargo and damage caused by delay;

  • certificate of registration;

  • certificate of airworthiness;

  • noise certificate;

  • operating permit questionnaire or third-country operator-approval;

  • declaration concerning an authorised recipient in Germany;

  • aviation security plan; and

  • in case of carrying cargo or mail: ACC3-designation according to EU Regulation 300/2008 for third-country airports that do not have equivalent security standards.

With regard to fifth freedom flights Proof must be brought to the LBA that German air carriers are neither prepared nor in a position to conduct the flights (declaration of non-availability). This proof is not required for cargo air services conducted by EEA air carriers. In the case of air carriers from EEA member states with an accredited branch in Germany, a declaration of non‑availability need not be submitted.

Flights on a commercial basis for other purposes (aerial work, flight with balloons, local flights) – air carriers from non-EEA Member States for these types of flight, entry is not permitted without explicit entry permission. The following documents must be provided to the LBA:

  • proof of relevant permission by the state of registry to perform the activity applied for;

  • third-party legal liability insurance;

  • liability insurance covering damage to persons, baggage, cargo and damage caused by delay;

  • certificate of registration;

  • certificate of airworthiness;

  • noise certificate; and

  • declaration of non-availability of the German companies.

Flights on a commercial basis for other purposes – air carriers from EEA Member States

According to EU Regulation 1008/2008, air carriers from EEA member states are allowed to operate traffic rights on routes in the intra-community air traffic in the European Economic Area. A separate application or notification is no longer necessary. This applies also for air carriers from Switzerland. Until an agreement between the European Union and Switzerland with regard to the approval of cabotage operations comes into force, Swiss aviation companies cannot be granted cabotage rights in Germany.

Ownership and Control

Do any nationality or other requirements or restrictions apply to ownership or control of air carriers operating in your jurisdiction?

An aircraft must be registered in the aircraft register. Registration is effected automatically by the LBA when granting the certificate of airworthiness. Therefore, obtaining of a certificate of airworthiness is a prerequisite for registration of an aircraft in the aircraft register.

As a general rule, registration in the aircraft register is possible only if the owner of the aircraft is:

  • a German national;

  • an EU or EEA member state national; or

  • a Swiss national.

Natural persons and corporate entities must normally have their place of domicile or business registration in Germany.

A person from a third-party country can be registered as an owner in the aircraft register if he or she indicates to the LBA details of a person who is authorised to accept service of documents and meets the above criteria.

If an aircraft is leased from an owner that is not domiciled or based in the European Union, the owner can be registered in the aircraft register if the following conditions are met:

  • the lessee is the operator of the aircraft and is a German air carrier with a valid operating permit;

  • the aircraft is leased for at least six months;

  • the aircraft is based and can regularly be found at an airport in Germany;

  • the owner proved its ownership of the aircraft by providing original documents or notarised copies of the originals to the LBA;

  • the owner declares in writing that:

  • it is aware of its obligations under German aviation law (especially the Regulation on Air Traffic Permission) and the Air Traffic Act;

  • the costs of registration of the aircraft can be charged on the aircraft operator; and

  • it is aware that the registration can be cancelled if the first three conditions listed above cease to apply, and that it must inform the LBA of any changes in this context.

Corporate entities must provide:

  • a copy of the commercial register extract; and

  • a declaration signed by the representative bodies of the company confirming that the company fulfils the conditions of Article 3 of the Air Traffic Act (ie, that the aircraft is not registered in a foreign aircraft register, that the main percentage of the assets of the company is owned by German or EU nationals, that German or EU nationals have the control over the assets and that the majority of the representatives of the company or the majority of the personally liable partners of the company are German or EU nationals).

Financial requirements

What financial thresholds must air carriers meet to obtain operating authorisation?


Insurance coverage

What is the required level of insurance coverage for air carrier operations?

Insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators are set out in EU Regulation  285/2010 (amending EU Regulation 785/2004).

This regulation applies to all air carriers and to all aircraft operators flying within, into, out of or over the territory of a member state to which the regulation applies. Air carriers and aircraft operators must be insured in accordance with this regulation as regards their aviation-specific liability in respect of passengers, baggage, cargo and third parties. The insured risks shall include acts of war, terrorism, hijacking, acts of sabotage, unlawful seizure of aircraft and civil commotion.

For liability in respect of passengers, the minimum insurance cover must be 250,000 special drawing rights (SDR) per passenger. For liability in respect of baggage, the minimum insurance cover must be 1,131SDR per passenger in commercial operations. For liability in respect of cargo, the minimum insurance cover must be 19SDR per kilogram (kg) in commercial operation. However, these figures do not apply with respect to flights over the territory of the member states carried out by non-EU air carriers and by aircraft operators using aircraft registered outside the European Union that do not involve a landing on or take-off from such territory.

In respect of liability for third parties, the minimum insurance cover per accident for each and every aircraft depends on the maximum take-off weight. For instance, the minimum insurance for an aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of less than 500,000kg would be 500 million SDR and for an aircraft with 500,000kg or more, the minimum insurance would be 700 million SDR.

EU member states must ensure that air carriers and aircraft operators comply with this regulation. Member states may request evidence of compliance with the insurance requirements laid down in this regulation.

With regard to EU air carriers, penalties for infringing this regulation may include the withdrawal of the operating licence. With regard to non‑EU air carriers, the penalties may include refusal of the right to land on the territory of an EU member state. If the aircraft operator is not an EU carrier, the minimum insurance cover must be in accordance with Article 37 of the Air Traffic Act. The figures are the same as in Article 7 of EU Regulation 785/2004 (ie, it depends on the maximum take-off weight).

Regarding aircraft hull insurance, the interest of the owner in the maintenance of the asset value can be insured. The insurer must pay for loss or damage to the aircraft up to the agreed insurance sum.

Another (non-mandatory) type of insurance is aviation accident insurance. The insurer must pay the agreed sum to a passenger or to the employees of the air carrier on a strict basis (ie, without clarifying whether the requirements for the liability of the air carrier are fulfilled, as would be the case in mandatory liability insurance).

Safety requirements

What safety requirements apply to air carrier operations, including with regard to professional and technical certifications?

In Germany, safety issues are largely governed by EU regulations. The national rules governing air traffic safety are primarily the Air Traffic Regulation, the Regulation for the Operation of Aircraft and the Regulation on the Examination of Aircraft.

Every participant in air traffic must act in such a way that the safety of the air traffic is guaranteed and no one is endangered or harmed. In respect of safety matters, the Air Traffic Regulation determines (among other things) the rights and obligations of the pilot in command, including the right to decide in respect of the operation of the aircraft and to undertake all necessary measures during flight, take-off and landing.

The Regulation for the Operation of Aircraft applies only as far as EU regulations do not apply and to the following:

  • aircraft that are registered in the German aircraft register;

  • aircraft for which the Federal Republic of Germany has assumed responsibility; and

  • aircraft that are registered in a different country but have German approval for round-trip flights without intermediate stops or hot-air balloon flights.

The Regulation for the Operation of Aircraft and its third implementation regulation stipulate the equipment that must be carried on board an aircraft – including safety belts, signals, oxygen systems, life vests, an airspeed indicator, two barometric altimeters, a variometer, a gyro, a magnetic compass, a first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher – depending on the intended flight type (eg, visual flight or instrumental flight, flights over water or land).

The Regulation on the Examination of Aircraft regulates the requirements and the procedure of the examination of aircraft concerning their airworthiness in terms of development, manufacturing and maintenance as far as EU Regulations 216/2008, 748/2012 and 2042/2003 are not applicable. The examination is made by way of a type inspection (in the case of the development and manufacture of the aircraft) and by control of maintenance measures or verified maintenance checks. In most cases, the LBA is the authority which is competent to issue the certificate of airworthiness.

Environmental obligations

What environmental obligations apply to air carrier operations?

The certification and registration of aircraft requires written documentation confirming that the noise level does not exceed the requirements on the basis of the current state of technology.The noise thresholds are indicated in the International Civil Aviation Organsiation Annex 16, Volume I and the Noise Regulations for Aircraft.The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) publishes the noise thresholds as per Article 4.1 of EU Regulation 216/2008 in the EASA’s type-certificate data sheet for noise database.Regarding aircraft that are subject to EU member state regulations as per Article 1.2 (“State Aircraft”) and Article 4.4 (“Annex II Aircraft”) of EU Regulation 216/2008 , the LBA noise threshold publications apply.

Germany and German operators as well as aircraft operators landing in and departing from Germany are subject to the EU Emission Trading Scheme. The relevant carriers must report their flights as well as their emissions to the relevant authority, which in Germany is the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt), an authority within the Ministry of Environment. Reports are due by March 31 of the relevant year and, based on the amount of emssions, DEHSt then determines the number of allowances that must be returned.

For the type certification of jet engines and turbo fans for civil subsonic aircraft, documentation is required confirming that the emissions of soot, carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide do not exceed the not exceed the requirements on the basis of the current state of technology. The thresholds are determined in the International Civil Aviation Organsiation rules in Annex 16 Volume II.

Air traffic control

How are air traffic control services regulated in your jurisdiction?

The German air traffic control authority is Deutsche Flugsicherung based in Langen. Its responsibilities, which are determined in the Air Traffic Act, are as follows:

  • air traffic control of air traffic in Germany;

  • establishing and maintaining technical devices and radio navigation systems;

  • planning and testing procedures and devices for air-traffic management;

  • preparing expert reports;

  • monitoring obstacles in restricted airport areas as well as beyond such areas 100 metres above ground;

  • collecting and publishing aviation information, data and maps; and

  • regional military air traffic control in Germany.

Air traffic control is effected by way of aerodrome control (tower), approach control (terminal control) and area control surveillance (area control centre).


Do any licensing requirements apply to specific routes?


Are any public service obligations in place with respect to remote destinations?


Charter Services

Do any special provisions apply to charter services?

Non-EEA charter carriers must apply for entry permission if they wish to fly to Germany. The permit can be obtained for a single flight or for several flights. The permit is granted only if the home country of the charter carrier grants entry permissions to German charter carriers in the same way (reciprocity principle).


What taxes apply to the provision of air carrier services?

An air traffic tax is stipulated in the Air Traffic Tax Act. The amount of the tax depends on the route, whereas the relevant routes and countries are listed in an annex of the act:

  • Distance Category 1 (short distance) – the tax is €7.38 per passenger;

  • Distance Category 2 (middle distance) – the tax is €23.05; and

  • Distance Category 3 (long distance) – the tax is € 41.49 per passenger.

Further, for flights within Germany, the air carrier must pay value added tax on each ticket sold.

Click here to view the full article.