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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?

Article 4 of EU Regulation 1008/2008 governs the general requirements for an undertaking to obtain an operating licence from the competent licensing authority of an EU member state. These prerequisites include:

  • a valid air operator certificate (AOC);
  • insurance coverage; and
  • financial thresholds which must be met.

The Austrian Aviation Act authorises the Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) to issue the operating licence.

Pursuant to the Air Operator Certificate Regulation 2008, Austro Control GmbH is the domestic authority responsible for granting an AOC in Austria. This regulation refers to EU Regulation 379/2014 (amending EU Regulation 965/2012), which lays down additional technical requirements and administrative procedures in relation to air operations.

To obtain an operating licence and transport passengers or goods by aircraft for commercial purposes in Austria, the Austrian Aviation Act stipulates requirements in a subsidiary way to EU legislation (see paragraph 104 onwards).

According to Article 15 of EU Regulation 1008/2008, member states cannot subject the operation of intra-EU air services by an EU air carrier to any permit or authorisation.

Special conditions exist for natural persons and entities with their seat in the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

Ownership and control

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

According to Article 4(f) of EU Regulation 1008/2008, in order to obtain an operating licence as an EU air carrier, member states and/or nationals of member states must own more than 50% of the undertaking and effectively control it, whether directly or indirectly, through one or more intermediate undertakings, unless provided for in an agreement with a third country to which the European Union is a party.

To obtain an operating licence or transport permission under the Austrian Aviation Act, the applicant must be an individual or corporation from:

  • the European Union;
  • the European Economic Area; or
  • Switzerland (see paragraph 106 of the act).

Financial requirements

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

EU legislation regulates the financial thresholds which must be met by air carriers.

According to Article 5 of EU Regulation 1008/2008, the competent licensing authority will closely assess whether an undertaking applying for an operating licence for the first time can demonstrate that it can:

  • at any time meet its actual and potential obligations established under realistic assumptions for a period of 24 months from the start of operations; and
  • meet the fixed and operational costs incurred by operations according to its business plan and established under realistic assumptions for a period of three months from the start of operations, without accounting for any income from its operations.

For the purposes of the assessment, each applicant must submit a business plan for at least the first three years of operation.

Different requirements apply for certain smaller ventures and aircraft (see Section 3, Article 5 of the regulation).

Insurance coverage

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

Pursuant to EU Regulation 785/2004 (amended by EU Regulation 1137/2008 and EU Regulation 285/2010), air carrier operations must insure risks in connection with baggage, cargo, passengers and third parties for commercial and private endeavours.

The minimum insurance cover must be:

  • for liability in respect of passengers – 250,000 special drawing rights (SDR) per passenger;
  • for liability in respect of baggage – 1,131 SDR per passenger in commercial operations; and
  • for liability in respect of cargo – 19 SDR per kg in commercial operation.

The minimum insurance cover per accident for an aircraft in connection with liability for third parties depends on the maximum take-off weight (MTOM). For example, the minimum insurance for an aircraft with a MOTM of less than 500,000kg is 500 million SDR. For an aircraft with a MOTM of 500,000kg or more, the minimum insurance cover is 700 million SDR.

With respect to overflights or non-traffic-related stops in an EU member state by non-EU air carriers which operate aircraft registered outside the European Union, the member state may demand evidence of compliance with the above-mentioned insurance covers.

Safety requirements

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

Safety requirements for air carrier operations are regulated by both EU legislation and domestic Austrian law.

The following EU regulations cover air safety:

In September 2002 the European Aviation Safety Agency was established. Its responsibilities include the approval of:

  • type certificates;
  • supplemental type certificates; and
  • modifications and repairs.

The principal Austrian domestic acts which govern air safety obligations are as follows:

  • The Austrian Aviation Act – the act stipulates that an air carrier can issue crew identification cards to its employees only if they pass a reliability check (based on certain EU regulations).
  • The Civil Aircraft and Aeronautical Equipment Regulation 2010 – this regulates aircraft maintenance and application requirements, as well as the application process for a certificate of airworthiness for an aircraft, among other things.
  • The Transport of Dangerous Goods Act, based on the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Annex 18 – The Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air and the Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (Doc 9284).

Air safety regulations are generally enforced by Austro Control GmbH.

Environmental obligations

What environmental obligations apply to air carrier operations?

Registration of an aircraft in Austria requires the submission of evidence that the aircraft complies with the Civil Aircraft Noise Admissibility Regulation 2005.

Austria, Austrian aircraft operators and foreign air carriers operating in Austria via landings and take-offs from Austrian airports are subject to EU Directive 2003/87/EC, which establishes a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading in the European Union. Therefore, air carriers must report their respective flights and emissions to the competent domestic authority. In Austria, this is the Austrian Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism.

Annex 16, Volume II of the Chicago Convention imposes additional rules with respect to the procedures for the emissions certification of aircraft engines.

Air traffic control

How are air traffic control services regulated in your jurisdiction?

Since January 1 1994 Austro Control GmbH, a wholly state-owned entity, has been responsible for air safety and air traffic control in relation to Austrian airspace. On busy days, around 3,000 flights are controlled and monitored by the company.

Austro Control GmbH performs sovereign tasks and acts under the supervision of the BMVIT.

Routes

Do any licensing requirements apply to specific routes?

According to Article 15 of EU Regulation 1008/2008, member states cannot subject the operation of intra-EU air services by an EU air carrier to any permit or authorisation.

Non-EU air carrier operators must request entry and route permission under bilateral air service agreements.

Austria is party to approximately 100 bilateral air service agreements with other countries, which regulate the timeframe for applications for prior approval of non-scheduled and scheduled services, among other things.

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

Pursuant to Article 16 of EU Regulation 1008/2008, an EU member state – following consultations with the other member states concerned and having informed the European Union, the airports concerned and air carriers operating on the route – may impose a public service obligation in regard to scheduled air services:

  • between an EU airport and an airport serving a peripheral or development region in its territory; or
  • on a thin route to any airport on its territory where the route is considered vital for the economic and social development of the region in which the airport operates.

Subject to Section 3 of the article, the member states must assess the necessity and adequacy of an envisaged public service obligation in regard to:

  • the proportionality between the envisaged obligation and the economic development needs of the region concerned;
  • the possibility of having recourse to other modes of transport and the ability of such modes to meet the transport needs under consideration, particularly when existing rail services serve the envisaged route with:
    • a travel time of less than three hours;
    • sufficient frequencies and connections; and
    • suitable timings;
  • the air fares and conditions quotable to users; and
  • the combined effect of all air carriers operating or intending to operate on the route.

Regarding aviation traffic, there are no public service obligations in place with respect to remote destinations in Austria.

Charter services

Do any special provisions apply to charter services?

Charter services constitute commercial air transport activity and are not governed by any special provisions in Austria. However, on the obtainment of route licences, the domestic legislature differentiates between:

  • scheduled services (charter flights);
  • non-scheduled charter flights;
  • intra-EU air services; and
  • third-country traffic.

Taxes

What taxes apply to the provision of air carrier services?

On April 1 2011 Austria introduced an air transport levy (see Air Transport Levy Act) for every passenger departing from an Austrian airport. The tariffs range from €3.50 to €17.50 depending on the length of the route. As the tax debtors, aircraft operators must assess the levy and submit the respective tax statement to the tax authority. Airport operators are jointly liable with the aircraft operator for payment of the air transport levy.

According to Sections 6 and 9 of the Austrian Value Added Tax Act 1994, the delivery of aircraft and specific services with respect to aircraft are exempt from value added tax under certain conditions, including the cross-border transport of passengers or goods.

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