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Air carrier operations

Operating authorisation

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

Air carriers require a valid air operator’s certificate and an operating licence. The requirements for obtaining an air operator’s certificate are set out by EU Regulation 965/2012 and the Air Carriage Decree. Foreign carriers operating passenger and cargo flights in the Netherlands also require route permission, either under EU Regulation 1008/2008, through designation under bilateral air service agreements or through special permission for scheduled or unscheduled flights.

In order to obtain an operating licence in the Netherlands, an airline must:

  • be established in the Netherlands;
  • hold an air operator’s certificate issued by the Dutch authorities;
  • own or (dry) lease one or more aircraft;
  • have as its main activity the operation of air services;
  • have a transparent company structure;
  • be majority owned and controlled by EU member states or residents thereof; and
  • comply with financial, insurance and good governance requirements.

The application process takes up to three months.

Ownership and control

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

Under EU Regulation 1008/2008 an air carrier is eligible for a Dutch operating licence only in the event that nationals of EU member states own more than 50% of the undertaking and effectively control it. For foreign airlines, ownership and control may affect eligibility for route permission.

Financial requirements

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

Article 5 of EU Regulation 1008/2008 sets out the financial conditions for obtaining an operating licence. The applicant should demonstrate that:

  • it can meet its obligations for a period of 24 months from the start of operations; and
  • it can meet its fixed and operational costs for a period of three months from the start of operations.

Further, the applicant must submit a business plan for the first three years of operation.

Insurance coverage

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

Under EU Regulation 785/2004 on insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators (as amended by EU Regulation 1137/2008 and EU Regulation 285/2010) air carriers must be insured for the risk with respect to passengers, baggage, cargo and third parties for commercial and private flights. For liability with respect to passengers the minimum insurance cover is 250,000 special drawing rights (SDR). For luggage the minimum insurance cover is 1,131SDR. For liability with respect to cargo, the minimum insurance cover is 19SDR per kilogram. For liability with respect to third parties the minimum insurance cover per accident depends on the weight of the aircraft.

Safety requirements

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

The principal pieces of national legislation are the Aviation Act and the Act on Aviation (see response to “What is the primary domestic legislation governing the aviation industry in your jurisdiction?”). The following regulations and decrees also apply:

  • the Aircraft Decree 2008, regulating airworthiness;
  • the Regulation on Aircraft Maintenance;
  • the Aviation Supervision Regulation;
  • the Aviation Licences Decree; and
  • the Air Traffic Regulation.

Air safety is administered by the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate. All certified companies are audited at least once a year. Accidents are investigated by the Dutch Safety Board.

Environmental obligations

What environmental obligations apply to air carrier operations?

Air carriers must comply with noise and emission limitation rules set out by the Aviation Act and its underlying decisions and regulations. These rules concern:

  • restricted exploitation of certain types of aircraft;
  • restricted exploitation in certain areas;
  • rules relating to engine testing;
  • designated departure and arrival routes;
  • limitation of flights during the night; and
  • slot coordination.

The minister of infrastructure and the environment may impose penalties or operating restrictions if air carriers violate these rules.

Air traffic control

How are air traffic control services regulated in your jurisdiction?

Air traffic control services are regulated by the Air Traffic Regulation. The responsibility for air traffic control of the airspace controlled by the Netherlands has been distributed to Air Traffic Control the Netherlands and the military air traffic control service provider.


Do any licensing requirements apply to specific routes?

When an air carrier obtains an operating licence in accordance with EU Regulation 1008/2008, the air carrier is entitled to operate within the European Economic Area. Non-EU operators require route permission under a bilateral agreement or special authorisation under the Decree on Non-scheduled Air Transport. The same applies to EU air carriers wishing to operate between airports in the Netherlands and airports outside the European Union.

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

EU member states may impose public service obligations in accordance with EU Regulation 1008/2008 in respect of scheduled air services between a European airport and an airport serving a peripheral or development region in its territory or on a thin route to any airport in its territory. Such route must be considered vital for the economic and social development of the region which the airport serves. The obligation should be imposed only to the extent necessary to ensure the minimum provision of scheduled air services on that route satisfying fixed standards of continuity, regularity, pricing or minimum capacity, which air carriers would not assume if they were solely considering their commercial interest. These public service obligations can be imposed only after consulting the other member states concerned and informing the European Commission. In relation to airports in the Netherlands, a public service obligation exists on the route Ostrava-Amsterdam at the initiative of the Czech Republic.

Charter services

Do any special provisions apply to charter services?

Flights of air charters are regarded as non-scheduled air transport and can be divided into intra-EU flights performed by EU operators that are permitted under EU Regulation 1008/2008 and flights that are not governed by this regulation. The latter are governed by the Decree on Non-scheduled Air Transport, which stipulates that the performance of charter flights requires permission from the minister. The assessment criteria for granting this permission are as follows:

  • the potential negative effects on the profitability of scheduled air services;
  • the interests of users in the non-scheduled air services against the lowest possible price; and
  • the application of reciprocity by the authorities of the state where the air carrier has its domicile.


What taxes apply to the provision of air carrier services?

In addition to the general Dutch tax legislation, a number of special provisions apply to the provision of air carrier services. Aviation fuel is exempt from duties. Pursuant to the Aviation Levies Regulation a noise levy and a governmental planning compensation levy are charged in order to fund isolation and relocation projects. In September 2017 the government announced that it was considering the introduction of a new tax on flight tickets.

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