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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?

The requirements to obtain an operating licence are established in the Regulations for Commercial Air Carriage Enterprises (SHY-6A). The air carrier must be a company registered in the trade registry with its principal place of business within the territory of Turkey. The business activities of cargo and passenger air carriers with aircraft having passenger capacity of more than 20 seats are restricted to aviation and aviation-related activities. A majority of the company’s shares, positions on the board of directors and voting rights must belong to Turkish citizens.

Air carriers applying for an operating licence must meet the requirements stated in the third section of the SHY-6A Regulations regarding:

  •          paid-up capital amounts;
  •          the required number of aircraft and aircraft capacity according to the type of flight operations (eg, scheduled, non-scheduled, passenger or             cargo carriage, air taxi or regional air transport);
  •          the organisational chart and the list of post holders;
  •          the operation manual;
  •          the training manual;
  •          agreements with licensed and recognised service suppliers; and
  •          insurance policies. 

To obtain an operating licence, the air carrier must prepare a file containing all of the information and documents listed in the attachment to the SHY-6A Regulations in order to prove that it has meet the relevant requirements. The air carrier must also file a front application with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). If the front application and submitted information and documents are found to be sufficient, a meeting with the DGCA will be scheduled, wherein the air carrier will provide detailed information on:

  •        its planned enterprise;
  •        its supply of aircraft;
  •        the employment and training of its personnel;
  •        its aircraft maintenance systems;
  •        its financial capacity;
  •        its supply of customers;
  •        its intended types and territory of operation; and
  •        other related issues.

The DGCA reviews and evaluates all information and documents submitted and assesses whether the applicant has the financial capacity and meets the requirements set in the SHY-6A Regulations. If the DGCA is satisfied with the application and supporting documents, the applicant will be notified of the acceptance of its front application.

Within 10 days of this notification, the applicant must submit all further required documents, including manuals, system details, bank guarantees, technical documents and activities schedules. If the documents meet the requirements, the applicant will submit its application for an aircraft operation certificate to the DGCA before expiry of the front permission term. The DGCA will carry out an audit of the submitted documents and information to confirm that they are satisfactory. The DGCA thereafter carries out an audit of the applicant’s suitability for an aircraft operation certificate. If the result of this audit is satisfactory, the application will be submitted to the minister of transport for his or her approval and issuance of the certificate.

Ownership and control

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

The Civil Aviation Act and the SHY-6A and SHY-6B Regulations require that the majority of the air carrier’s voting shares (ie, at least 51%) be owned by Turkish citizens, and that the management remain under the actual control of Turkish citizens.

Foreign operators wishing to operate between Turkey and other countries must be assessed by the Ministry of Transport, which will take into account the bilateral and multilateral treaties to which Turkey is a party as well as the principle of reciprocity.

The commercial carriage of passengers, goods and mail between destinations within the territory of Turkey can be conducted only by Turkish nationals (Article 41 of the Civil Aviation Act).

Financial requirements

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

Pursuant to the SHY-6A Regulations, operators wishing to conduct scheduled or charter flights or regional air carriage should have fully paid-up capital of a certain amount for each aircraft in their fleet:

  • An operator intending to operate with aircraft having a seat capacity of 100 or more must have fully paid-up capital of at least $15 million and should have at least five aircraft (whether owned or leased) registered under its title in the Turkish Aircraft Registry. This $15 million paid-up capital is sufficient for up to 15 aircraft, while additional paid-up capital of $1 million is required for each aircraft over the first 15 aircraft.
  • An operator intending to operate with aircraft having a seat capacity of at least 20 and up to 99 must have fully paid-up capital of at least $5 million and should have at least two aircraft  (whether owned or leased) registered under its title in the Turkish Aircraft Registry. This $5 million paid-up capital is sufficient for up to 10 aircraft, while additional paid-up capital of $500,000 is required for each aircraft over the first 10 aircraft.

To obtain operating authorisation, the operator must deposit a bank letter of guarantee in the sum of $500,000.

Insurance coverage

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

Articles 132 to 138 of the Civil Aviation Act stipulate the insurance requirements for air carrier operations. Article 132 provides that air carriers authorised to carry passengers, cargo or mail must have financial liability insurance covering amounts up to the limits of its liability. Article 138 stipulates that operators should have compulsory insurance coverage for potential damages that they might cause to third parties during their flight operations.

EU Regulation 785/2004 on insurance requirements for air carriers and operators was adopted into Turkish law through two separate regulations dealing with insurance requirements, minimum insurance coverage amounts (in special drawing rights) and penalties for non-compliance.


Safety requirements

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

Although Turkey is not a member of the European Union, it collaborates with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) under a special protocol and EASA safety requirements are implemented in Turkey. One of the most significant of these implementing regulations is the Regulation on Continuing Airworthiness and Maintenance Liability (SHY-M), which defines and regulates the duties of the Department of Airworthiness under the DGCA. More specific details on obtaining and maintaining airworthiness certificates are set out in the Directive on the Issuance and Extension of Airworthiness Certificates, compliance with which is essential for the registration and operation of any aircraft. A certificate of airworthiness is issued following a full review of the aircraft’s compliance with the requirements for the flight and service manuals, air directives and service bulletins. In this regard, the DGCA regularly carries out audits of operators, aircraft, personnel and maintenance services.

Operators must employ a requisite number of flight crew, maintenance personnel, training and quality control personnel and operations personnel, who are subject to the DGCA’s approval following the inspection and on satisfaction of the DGCA’s requirements.

Another important provision is DGCA Directive SHT-50, which regulates the flight, flight duties and rest hours of the flight crew (eg, setting maximum allowed flight hours and minimum rest hours). The observance and implementation of these regulations are closely reviewed and violations are subject to prosecution and penalties.

Environmental obligations

What environmental obligations apply to air carrier operations?

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 16 applies. DGCA Regulation SHY-21 also establishes environmental protection requirements with regard to the issuance of airworthiness certificates and flight permits, as well as the import and assembly of aircraft devices, equipment and parts. Non-compliance with the requirements is subject to fines, denial of certification or prohibition of operations or flights.

Air traffic control

How are air traffic control services regulated in your jurisdiction?

Air traffic control services are provided by the State Airports Enterprises Directorate General in accordance with the standards and procedures of ICAO annexes and documents.


Do any licensing requirements apply to specific routes?

The routes on which an air carrier may operate are defined in the operation licence. Any change or addition is subject to the approval of the DGCA.

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


Charter services

Do any special provisions apply to charter services?

No. Charter services are regulated under the SHY-6A Regulations.


What taxes apply to the provision of air carrier services?

Air carriers are not subject to any particular taxes other than corporate tax imposed on revenues and value added tax (VAT). VAT is not applicable to international flights.

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