A positive regulatory change is going into effect regarding charter or non-scheduled commercial operations to the United Kingdom [UK], starting in April 2014.

The impact of it will help remove some of the uncertainty and delay potential that had formerly existed in terms of processing charter permit requests, essentially making the experience for aircraft operators and their agents easier and more efficient. However, the change will also provide less flexibility for last-minute trips, and it will be more expensive due to a new fee to process permits.

The Department for Transportation [DfT] will transfer the processing of charter permits on April 6, 2014, to the UK Civil Aviation Authority [CAA]. The transfer to the CAA will result in a number of changes to the permit application process. A particular change is that the current charter permit "objection process" will no longer be a factor in issuing permits.

Although final details on the changing permit processes and requirements are not yet completely defined, it is critical that aircraft operators and their agents have a comprehensive understanding of how these changes will affect them. A new website, still a work in progress by both DfT and CAA, will go into operation very soon to provide this detailed information. In the meantime, updates during the transition and the impending new process can be found here.

When the CAA does take over handing out charter permits, the process will take place via a web portal, where required documentation can be uploaded, along with the permit application. When this portal is ready, any operator, or service provider, will have the ability to access the site. However, following up on permit requests will require direct contact with the CAA.

CAA operating hours for applying for charter permits will remain 9AM – 5PM [UK local time], Monday through Friday. And while the amount of the new permit application fee has not yet been determined, it's reported to be an estimated $150 USD. It is unclear, at this time, if normal permit lead times will change when the CAA manages the process. Permit documentation requirements are also undefined at this point. For more information in regard to current charter permit documentation requirements, see the UK government website.

Overall, this new approach will enable the CAA to introduce a streamlined online process and enhance oversight of foreign registered aircraft operating into and out of the UK. Also, it is expected to help create a more competitive aviation market leading to greater connectivity, more choices, and lower prices for consumers.

In the meantime, applications for permits should continue to be made to the Department for Transport until April 6, 2014.