What Is Cabotage And How Does It Affect My Private Jet Flight?

Ever heard a flight adviser or pilot refer to “cabotage” when discussing an international private jet charter flight? Here we explain the basics of cabotage rules, and what you need to know for your next flight.

The overall purpose of cabotage rules are to prohibit foreign aircraft from one country traveling into another country and picking up foreign nationals or citizens of another foreign country and providing transportation to and between points within that foreign country. It is meant to protect domestic industry from foreign competition.


But since each country’s rules on cabotage are different, how do you know if your charter flight is following regulations? To help clarify, we’ve taken a look at the rules on cabotage and how it can affect your private jet flight.

What is “Cabotage?”

In air law, cabotage is the carriage of passengers or cargo between two airports located inside the same country, performed by an aircraft registered outside that country.

In the United States, this means the carriage by non-US operators, including Canadian carriers, of local traffic (i.e. taking passengers originating at one US point and terminating at another US point) for compensation or hire.

An example of this would be if a service between St. Louis and Denver was offered by a non-US carrier without continuing service to a foreign destination.

Cabotage in the US

Cabotage rules are different in various countries. The restrictions range from no restrictions (as it is in Italy), to not allowed (as it is in Pakistan).

In regards to the United States, a foreign private jet cannot come in empty to the US for the purpose of carrying passengers point-to-point within the country.


However, a charter aircraft with passengers who boarded in Canada may fly to several points within the US, as long as it is the same charter flight with the same people on board – additional passengers cannot be brought on board mid-itinerary.

Cabotage in Mexico

Mexico has interesting cabotage laws to highlight. In Mexico, passengers must leave and exit in the same fashion – with a few exceptions. Part 135 operations cannot one-way drop off or pick up passengers if they are not a Mexican registered aircraft and crew. If a passenger flies to Mexico on a commercial airliner, they cannot take a one-way private jet charter out on a non-Mexican aircraft (except in very special circumstances).

Part 91 operations (private plane owners) do not fall under such restrictions. The law makes a distinction between revenue-generating and non-revenue-generating flights.

Cabotage in Europe

Carriers licensed in the European Union are permitted to engage in cabotage in any EU member state.

However, there are a few scenarios where cabotage can present some confusion.

All private flights must arrive and depart the EU with the same lead passenger – while other passengers can come and go, the same lead passenger must remain consistent.

Non-EU-registered aircraft may fly into the EU and complete multiple legs with the same lead passenger, but that aircraft may not start a new charter trip there.

Cabotage Around the World

Outside of the European Union, bilateral agreements are most common. For example, Australia and New Zealand have an agreement allowing airlines to fly domestically and internationally within each others’ borders.


So How Does Cabotage Affect My Private Jet Flight?

In short, you don’t have to worry about cabotage laws when flying with PrivateFly.

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Our flight team is fully aware of cabotage regulations for each country. When you book a flight through us, you don’t have to worry about if you’re following the correct regulations – we will sort it out for you.

For advice or private jet charter pricing, call us at (866) 726-1222 or contact us online