Fly America Act, airline "open skies" agreement, involuntary rerouting, travel to and from the U.S. , travel between points outside the U.S., short distance travel, foreign-flag carrier
The Fly America Act (49 U.S.C. 40118) generally provides that foreign air travel funded by Federal government money may only be conducted on U.S. flag air carriers. A "U.S. flag air carrier" is an air carrier that holds a certificate under 49 U.S.C. 41102 but does not include a foreign air carrier operating under a permit. There are limited circumstances under which use of a foreign-flag air carrier is permissible. These circumstances are outlined below:
- Airline "Open Skies" Agreement. A foreign flag air carrier may be used if the transportation is provided under an air transportation agreement between the United States and a foreign government, which the Department of Transportation has determined meets the requirements of the Fly America Act. For example, in 2008, the U.S. entered into an "Open Skies" Agreement with the European Union (EU). This Agreement gives European Community airlines (airlines of Member States) the right to transport passengers and cargo on flights funded by the U.S. government, when the transportation is between a point in the United States and any point in a Member State or between any two points outside the United States.
The U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement was amended effective June 24, 2010. GSA issued Guidance October 6, 2010. Pursuant to the amendment, federal contractors and recipients (not U.S. Government employees) need not be concerned about city-pair contract fares. However, contractors and recipients must check with the airline to ensure that the airline is covered by the U.S.-EU Open Skies agreement which may change periodically.
Additionally, pursuant to the amendment, EU airlines are no longer limited to flying passengers between points in the United States and points in the EU. Instead, EU airlines are authorized to transport passengers between points in the United States and points outside the EU if the EU airline is authorized to serve the route under the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement. This includes flights that originate, arrive, or stop in the European Union. For additional information, please see the text of the Amendment and GSA Bulletin FTR 11-02. For information on other "open skies" agreements in which the United States has entered, refer to GSA's Web site: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/103191.
- Involuntary Rerouting. Travel on a foreign-flag carrier is permitted if a U.S.-flag air carrier involuntarily reroutes the traveler via a foreign-flag air carrier, notwithstanding the availability of alternative U.S.-flag air carrier service.
- Travel To and From the U.S. Use of a foreign-flag air carrier is permissible if the airport abroad is: (a) the traveler's origin or destination airport, and use of U.S.-flag air carrier service would extend the time in a travel status by at least 24 hours more than travel by a foreign-flag air carrier; or (b) an interchange point, and use of U.S.-flag air carrier service would increase the number of aircraft changes the traveler must make outside of the U.S. by two or more, would require the traveler to wait four hours or more to make connections at that point, or would extend the time in a travel status by at least six hours more than travel by a foreign-flag air carrier.
- Travel Between Points Outside the U.S. Use of a foreign-flag air carrier is permissible if: (a) travel by a foreign-flag air carrier would eliminate two or more aircraft changes en route; (b) travel by a U.S.-flag air carrier would require a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point; or (c) the travel is not part of the trip to or from the U.S., and use of a U.S.-flag air carrier would extend the time in a travel status by at least six hours more than travel by a foreign-flag air carrier.
- Short Distance Travel. For all short distance travel, regardless of origin and destination, use of a foreign-flag air carrier is permissible if the elapsed travel time on a scheduled flight from origin to destination airport by a foreign-flag air carrier is three hours or less and service by a U.S.-flag air carrier would double the travel time.