15-04-2024

Lithuania Receives International Safety Rating From FAA

Lithuania has achieved the top ranking (Category 1) from the Federal Aviation administration following its first International Aviation Safety Assessment.  This opens the door for Lithuanian airlines to conduct commercial flights into the United States with aircraft registered in Lithuania.

In order for this process to run smoothly, all the necessary procedures and regulations were harmonised enabling the airlines registered in Lithuania operate flights both to and from the USA. Amendments to the Law on Aviation were also implemented, and the fines provided for in the Code of Administrative Offences for offences related to aviation activities were increased.

“After almost 3 years of intensive work by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the institutions, Lithuania has successfully completed the audit procedure of the US Federal Aviation Administration and was included in the list of countries in our target category. This creates favourable conditions for airlines operating in our country to conduct transatlantic operations. This is an important impetus for the development of the country’s aviation business and increasing competitiveness in the global market,” said Marius Skuodis, Minister of Transport and Communications.

U.S Ambassador to Lithuania Kara C. McDonald said, “I congratulate the government of Lithuania, especially the Ministry of Transport and Communications and civil aviation authorities, on this achievement.  This Category 1 ranking provides opportunities to expand connections and deepen economic ties between the United States and Lithuania.”

Airlines registered in Lithuania will be able to freely conduct operations in the USA not only from Lithuania, but also from other countries of the world. For example, a company based in the Caribbean or Canada can order cargo to be flown to the USA through Lithuanian carriers.

Depending on the nature of the flights – whether they will be one-off, charter or scheduled – air carriers will still need to go through certain procedures, submit applications and obtain permission from the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

In order to grant permission to operate flights in the US, the FAA conducts an audit of a foreign country’s civil aviation oversight system, which audits its compliance with the  civil aviation safety standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and assigns Category 1 or 2 to countries. The right to operate new flights to the territory of the United States is granted only to air carriers from the countries that were assigned Category 1. Such an audit was conducted in Lithuania in April 2023, with conclusions presented later, and at the end of last year, the FAA experts came to the country to evaluate how their additional requirements were implemented in order to be able to operate flights in the US airspace. 

“The entire process lasted about two and a half years, with several state institutions involved – the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Seimas and the Government, the Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration and the Public Enterprise Transport Competence Agency. We are pleased that the work of our specialist team in preparation for the FAA audit was evaluated positively. We hope that Lithuanian airlines will successfully develop their operations in a new region where they have not operated flights before,” said this project’s manager Mantas Kerdokas, advisor to the Strategic Planning and Finance Division of the Transport Competence Agency (TKA).

According to the TKA, 1 company has already submitted an application to fly in the US airspace. It is expected that 2 more carriers could use the opportunity to fly passengers, mail and cargo to or within the USA.

Creation of new opportunities for the development of activities of the Lithuanian aviation companies and access to the USA and other priority markets is one of goals provided for in the Lithuanian aviation guidelines until 2030. These Guidelines, prepared and approved a couple of years ago together with market participants, set priorities and strategic directions for developing the country’s aviation sector and improving air transportation.