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Cabotage In The Americas

Transporting passengers or cargo within a country by a foreign-based operator, known as cabotage, is outlawed in most places. Sometimes these rules only apply to revenue-generating flights, which means your business jet may be able to pick up nationals and transport them within their own country. 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, you should be aware of cabotage law in every foreign country you operate. Cabotage regulations in the Americas illustrate their diversity.

North America

United States – Foreign-registered private aircraft engaged in non-revenue operations may discharge, take on, or carry U.S. passengers within the U.S. and all its territories. Charter operators of foreign aircraft may carry passengers between two points in the U.S. if these passengers either arrive in, or depart the U.S. aboard the same aircraft. These operators are usually prohibited from picking up and dropping off passengers within the U.S., unless the passenger(s) are traveling on the same aircraft to a point outside the U.S.

Canada – No cabotage restrictions for private non-revenue operations if the owner, owner’s guest, or employees are onboard and aren’t charged for the flight. Non-Canadian registered charter operators (except U.S.-registered aircraft) are prohibited from carrying local passengers of any nationality between two points in Canada. U.S. operators are exempt from those prohibitions under current U.S.-Canada open skies policies if the passengers boarded outside of Canada. U.S. charter operators may carry U.S. or international passengers into and within Canada freely.

Mexico – Private non-revenue flights are exempt from cabotage restrictions, but operators must carry a letter detailing the relationship between the passengers and the operator. Regulations governing charter operations are complex and strictly enforced, with hefty fines and/or aircraft grounding if cabotage is detected. Charter operators are only permitted one stop in Mexico (excepting technical stops and landings for security screening) to pick up and drop off passengers, and passengers may not be picked up unless the operator brought them to Mexico.

South America

Argentina – No reported cabotage restrictions, but be sure all crew and passenger documentation are provided in advance.

Brazil – No restrictions for either private non-revenue or charter operations. Rules prohibiting foreign, for-hire operators from transporting passengers or cargo typically exempt private aircraft operations. However, cabotage rules can be unclear. Charter flights have, in rare instances, been deemed “non regular” operations, and subject to cabotage restrictions.

Chile – No cabotage restrictions on any operators. In 2016 Chile proposed that ICAO support eased cabotage regulations, citing the country’s own positive experience allowing cabotage.

Colombia – Cabotage not permitted by foreign-registered aircraft. Fines up to 300 times statutory minimum legal monthly wages will apply.

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 cabotage issues in the Americas or elsewhere.

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Jetex Dubai
+971 4 2124000

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+1 305 306 4000

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