Jetex Logo
Jetex Logo

Cabotage In Europe, The Middle East And Africa

Cabotage – foreign-based operators transporting passengers or cargo within another country – is outlawed in most nations, especially for commercial aircraft. Some nations relax cabotage laws for private and business aircraft. For example, if your business has offices in another country, picking up employees in that country with a foreign-registered company aircraft and transporting them to another part of the country for business purposes may be permitted.

But cabotage laws and the definition of commercial aviation vary worldwide, and penalties for violating these rules can include six-figure fines or aircraft impoundment. If you are operating internationally, be aware of cabotage law in every foreign country you operate. The spectrum of rules in Europe, the Middle East and Africa underscores the challenges.

European Union (EU)

The EU is a single state for trade purposes, so EU-registered aircraft can conduct commercial operations freely within any other member state. For aircraft registered outside of the EU, cabotage restrictions may apply to non-revenue private flights. The EU defines commercial flight operations as an activity “engaged in for profit.” Thus, a foreign-registered corporate jet’s non-revenue flights in pursuit of its business within the EU could be considered commercial operations.

UK, France, Germany and Italy have been particularly strict in enforcing cabotage rules for charter operations, and their civil aviation authorities have denied permits to operators deemed in violation. Yet Italy has been among the more open-minded EU members in exempting non-revenue flights from cabotage restrictions.

One option to allow transport of EU nationals within EU borders is to import the foreign aircraft, although this fee is equal to a percentage of the aircraft value.


Cabotage enforcement is strict. Private aircraft carrying fewer than 19 passengers must arrive, depart, and usually make all stops with those same passengers aboard to travel domestically, though regulations provide some flexibility. Operators may request cabotage clearance along with a landing permit request, listing passengers on each leg and reason for their carriage. This is highly recommended for charter operators.

The Middle East

• Saudi Arabia – Prohibited.
• United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Cabotage is prohibited for non-UAE carriers without specific authorization.
• Kuwait – Cabotage prohibited.


• Mozambique – Cabotage prohibited.
• South Africa – Operators of non-revenue flights should carry a letter from the aircraft owner declaring the flight is not for hire.

Cabotage regulations are found in the Aeronautical Information Publications (AIP) of individual countries, but may not be complete. Contact your Jetex representative if you have additional questions or need assistance with any cabotage issues.

Get in touch with us today.

Jetex Dubai
+971 4 2124000

Jetex Miami
+1 305 306 4000

Alternatively, read more about other permits and permissions required when flying to EMEA.