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The Fly America Act
Regulating the use of Foreign Air Carriers on Federally Funded Awards

DEFINITION OF FOREIGN TRAVEL

Travel other than within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories and possessions of the United States.  Possessions include Marshal Islands, Guam Federated States of Micronesia, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Palau, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands.  Some sponsors also consider Canada and Mexico as domestic.  Check your sponsor's regulation.

PURPOSE

First enacted in 1974, and subsequently amended in 1979, 1996, and 1998, the "Fly America Act" originally intended to encourage travel to and from the U.S. on U.S. carriers.  It ultimately requires that any foreign air travel funded with federal dollars be performed on U.S. flag air carriers when service provided by a U.S. carrier is available unless "acceptable reasons" determine the unavailability of a U.S. air carrier.  U.S. air carrier service considered available even if comparable, or different, air travel service can be provided at less cost by a foreign air carrier; the foreign carrier is preferred, or more convenient; or the foreign carrier can be paid in excess foreign currency.

EXCEPTIONS

  • if a U.S. flag air carrier offers nonstop or direct service (no aircraft change) from your origin to your destination, you must use the U.S. flag air carrier service unless such use would extend your travel time, including delay at origin, by 24 hours or more.
  • if a U.S. flag air carrier does not offer nonstop or direct service (no aircraft change) between your origin and your destination, you must use a U.S. flag air carrier on every portion of the route where it provides service unless, when compared to using a foreign air carrier, such use would:
    • Increase the number of aircraft changes you must make outside the U.S. by two or more; or
    • Extend your travel time by at least six hours or more; or
    • Require a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point.

NECCESSITY

  • Foreign air carrier service is deemed a necessity when service by a U.S. flag air carrier is available, but:
    • Cannot provide the air transportation needed; or
    • Will not accomplish the agencies mission.
  • Necessity includes, but is not limited to, the following circumstances:
    • When the agency determines that use of a foreign air carrier is necessary for medical reasons, including use of foreign air carrier service to reduce the number of connections and possible delays in the transportation of persons in need of medical treatment; or
    • When use of a foreign air carrier is required to avoid an unreasonable risk to your safety and is approved by your agency (e.g. terrorist threats) .  Written approval of the use of foreign air carrier service based on an unreasonable risk to your safety must be approved by your agency on a case by case basis. An agency determination and approval of use of a foreign air carrier based on a threat against a U.S. flag air carrier must be supported by a travel advisory notice issued by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of State.  An agency's determination and approval of use of a foreign air carrier based on a threat against Government employees or other travelers must be supported by evidence of the threat(s) that form the basis of the determination and approval; or
    • When you cannot purchase a ticket in your authorized class of service on a U.S. flag air carrier, and a seat is available in your authorized class of service on a foreign air carrier.

SHORT DISTANCE TRAVEL

If use of a foreign carrier is three hours or less and the use of a U.S. carrier would double the en route travel time a foreign carrier may be used.

U.S. FLAG AIR CARRIER

U.S. flag air carrier service is service provided on an air carrier which hold a certificate under 49 U.S.C. 41102 and which service is authorized either by the carriers certificate or by exemption or regulation.  U.S. flag air carrier service also includes service provided under a code share agreement with a foreign air carrier in accordance with Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations  when the ticket, or documentation for an electronic ticket, identifies the U.S. flag air carriers designator code and flight number.

DOCUMENTATION

You must provide a certification, as required by your agency.  Your agency cannot pay for foreign air carrier fare if you do not provide the required certification. 

NON-COMPLIANCE

You will not be reimbursed from federal funds for any transportation costs for which you improperly use any foreign air carrier service.