Under 49 USC § 41301, any foreign air carrier wishing to offer services to the United States and to offer for sale tickets for travel on its services to/from the United States must obtain authorization from the US Department of Transportation (essentially the Economic Authority) and US Federal Aviation Administration (essentially the Operating Authority). As operations to the United States by foreign air carriers are conducted under 14 CFR
Part 129), the approval is often referred to as the “DOT 129”.
In the case of a carrier who wishes to offer a code-share service or any other kind of service (eg. Wet lease) using the operations of an operator who already holds Operating Authority from the FAA, the DOT Economic Authority must still be approved prior to “listing or advertising service in any medium”. Furthermore “if the appropriate authority is the subject of an application pending with the Department, the service may not be listed or advertised. A note stating that the listed service is ""subject to government approval'' where an application is pending within the Department is not sufficient".
The approval process for the DOT 129 is conducted by the DOT’s Foreign Air Carrier Licensing division, part of the Office of International Aviation. The primary criterion applied for the approval is that the applicant is “ready, fit and able” to provide the service and that the service is “in the public interest”. A standard comment period of approximately 3 weeks following filing is required prior to approval, but can be shortened by phone polling concerned parties for no objection.
However, in the case of any application that involves “any agreements or cooperative working arrangements (e.g., block-space, code-share, wet-lease), both oral and written, entered with and between the applicant, or on behalf of the applicant, and any U.S. or foreign air carrier, affecting the proposed services to the United States” (14 CFR
211.20(m)), a further review is required by the Office of International Aviation’s Pricing and Multilateral Affairs division. This is done to “review intercarrier agreements… to determine whether they should be approved and given antitrust immunity”. There are further requirements under 14 CFR
218.3 that also need to be addressed, as well as requirements under 14 CFR
303, in case a determination of anti-trust potential is made.
Any application that requires a review of antitrust immunity is expected to incur significant delays in approval, to the extent of approximately 3 months assuming no further objections are raised.
The above deals primarily with the DOT 129 and the process and pitfalls most airlines encounter when dealing with that process. The FAA operating authority is a seperate process that focusses primarily on safety oversight.
"The A340-300 may boast a long range, but the A340 is underpowered" -- Robert Milton, CEO - Air Canada