Notice to Industry: Criteria to Determine What Constitutes an Air Service


This Notice is to inform the air industry, and other interested stakeholders, of a determination made by the Agency on the criteria it will apply to determine what constitutes an “air service”.

Air service

The Canada Transportation Act (Act) states that no person shall operate an “air service” unless the person holds a licence to provide that specific service.

The key element to any Agency determination as to what constitutes an “air service” is determining whether the service is publicly available. While the Act refers to the phrase “publicly available” within its definition of an air service, the term “publicly available” is not defined in the Act.

To date, the Agency has interpreted this expression through its decisions which are rendered on a case-by-case basis, based on the specific facts in each application. To improve the transparency and clarity of the legislative regime it administers, the Agency undertook a review to develop a set of criteria to help define what constitutes an air service and, in particular, the concept of “publicly available”.

After considering submissions from stakeholders, the Agency has completed its review and identified the following criteria.


An “air service” is one that is:

  1. offered and made available to the public;
  2. provided by means of an aircraft;
  3. provided pursuant to a contract or arrangement for the transportation of passengers or goods; and
  4. offered for consideration.

Agency Decision No. 390-A-2013 provides greater details on the rationale for, and the application, of these criteria.

The Agency will apply these four criteria when determining whether a person operates an “air service”.

If a person believes that the criteria, as set out above and detailed in the Agency Decision, have an impact on a previous determination, they may request the Agency to reconsider whether they continue to require an air service licence.

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