A review of the DOT Public Charter lists reported for 2011 and 2021 reveals an increase in the number of entities authorized as public charter operators as well as the number of proposed flights. The increase in public charter opportunities in certain markets has raised some concerns in communities where these flights are regularly occurring. In addition, NATA seeks to educate on-demand carriers so they are familiar with the privileges and limitations of public charter operations to best support their own operations as well as to create opportunities to enhance awareness efforts.
NATA supports the existing regulatory oversight system for the licensing and conduct of Public Charter Operations.
NATA members and others holding FAA on-demand air carrier authority (14 CFR 135) as well as DOT air taxi or commuter economic authority (14 CFR 298) are eligible to provide air transportation under contracts with DOT-authorized public charter operators (14 CFR 380). Public charter operators engage in air carrier for specific charter flights, re-selling individual seats on those flights to passengers.
Recent growth both in DOT 14 CFR Part 380 and scheduled FAA 14 CFR 135 operations is beneficial to the on-demand industry represented by NATA. However, educational efforts are needed to ensure the requirements are well-understood and that all impacted parties have clarity on the established guidelines.
Regulations authorizing public charter operators to organize flights for resale to the public and the use of air carriers with DOT air taxi or commuter authority to perform these flights have existed for decades. Long-standing FAA regulations related to the operation of public charter flights by on-demand carriers are also expressly authorized and further supported by several legal interpretations issued by the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel.
The benefits of travel in smaller, private aircraft typical to Part 135 charter operations have become more apparent in recent years. However, full-aircraft private jet charter remains prohibitively expensive for many potential customers, particularly when they will not fill all available passenger seats. To offer a lower cost of entry, there have been efforts over the last two decades to improve the ability to aggregate multiple individuals or groups on a single aircraft. Additionally, reduced airline service at non-hub airports has raised interest in different approaches to transportation, including the use of public charter operations.
Public charter operation areas of interest include surveillance, community outreach, data, agency/operator connections, and operator safety. Read NATA's Public Charter Operations paper to learn more.