Flag carrier

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A Concorde of the United Kingdom flag carrier British Airways Aerospatiale-British Aerospace Concorde 102, British Airways AN0744492.jpg
A Concorde of the United Kingdom flag carrier British Airways

A flag carrier is a transportation company, such as an airline or shipping company, that, being locally registered in a given sovereign state, enjoys preferential rights or privileges accorded by the government for international operations.

Contents

Historically, the term was used to refer to airlines owned by the government of their home country and associated with the national identity of that country. [1] Such an airline may also be known as a national airline or a national carrier, although this can have different legal meanings in some countries. Today, it is any international airline with a strong connection to its home country or that represents its home country internationally, regardless of whether it is government-owned. [2] [3]

Flag carriers may also be known as such due to laws requiring aircraft or ships to display the state flag of the country of their registry. [4] For example, under the law of the United States, a U.S. flag air carrier is any airline that holds a certificate under Section 401 of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (i.e., any U.S.-based airline operating internationally), [5] and any ship registered in the United States is known as a U.S. flag vessel. [6]

Background

The term "flag carrier" is a legacy of the time when countries established state-owned airline companies. Governments then took the lead due to the high capital costs of establishing and running airlines. However, not all such airlines were government-owned; Pan Am, TWA, Cathay Pacific, Union de Transports Aériens, Canadian Pacific Air Lines and Olympic Airlines were all privately owned. Most of these were considered to be flag carriers [7] as they were the "main national airline" [8] and often a sign of their country's presence abroad. [9] [10]

A Douglas DC-4 owned and operated by El Al in 1948. 4X-ACA - Ekron Air Base ca 27-09-1948.jpg
A Douglas DC-4 owned and operated by El Al in 1948.

The heavily regulated aviation industry also meant aviation rights are often negotiated between governments, denying airlines the right to an open market. These Bilateral Air Transport Agreements similar to the Bermuda I and Bermuda II agreements specify rights awardable only to locally registered airlines, forcing some governments to jump-start airlines to avoid being disadvantaged in the face of foreign competition. Some countries also establish flag carriers such as Israel's El Al [11] or Lebanon's Middle East Airlines [12] for nationalist reasons, or to aid the country's economy, particularly in the area of tourism. [13]

In many cases, governments would directly assist in the growth of their flag carriers typically through subsidies and other fiscal incentives. The establishment of competitors in the form of other locally registered airlines may be prohibited, or heavily regulated to avoid direct competition. [14] Even where privately run airlines may be allowed to be established, the flag carriers may still be accorded priority, especially in the apportionment of aviation rights to local or international markets. [15]

In the last two decades,[ when? ] however, many of these airlines have since been corporatized as a public company or a state-owned enterprise, or completely privatized. [16] The aviation industry has also been gradually deregulated and liberalized, [17] permitting greater freedoms of the air particularly in the United States and in the European Union with the signing of the Open Skies agreement. [18] One of the features of such agreements is the right of a country to designate multiple airlines to serve international routes with the result that there is no single "flag carrier". [19]

List of flag-carrying airlines

The chart below lists airlines considered to be a "flag carrier", based on current or former state ownership, or other verifiable designation as a national airline.

Country or RegionAirlineDetails of current state ownershipDetails of former state ownership
Flag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan Ariana Afghan Airlines [20] Majority [21]
Flag of Albania.svg  Albania Air Albania [22]
Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria Air Algérie [23] State-owned [24]
Flag of Angola.svg  Angola TAAG Angola Airlines [25] Majority [26]
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina Aerolíneas Argentinas [27] State-owned [27]
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Qantas [28] NoneState-owned until 1992. [29]
Virgin Australia [30] Minority state-owned by the Queensland Government through QIC [31]
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria Austrian Airlines [32] None – owned by Lufthansa State-owned until 5 December 2008. [33]
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Airlines [34]
Flag of the Bahamas.svg  Bahamas Bahamasair [35] State-owned
Flag of Bahrain.svg  Bahrain Gulf Air [36] State-owned [37]
Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh Biman Bangladesh Airlines [38] Public-limited companyState-owned until 23 July 2007.
Flag of Belarus.svg  Belarus Belavia [39] State-owned [40]
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium Brussels Airlines [41] None – owned by Lufthansa [42] State-owned in its original incarnation ( SN Brussels Airlines )
Flag of Bhutan.svg  Bhutan Druk Air [43] None
Flag of Bolivia.svg  Bolivia Boliviana de Aviación [44] State-owned [45]
Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana Air Botswana [46] State-owned [46]
Flag of Brunei.svg  Brunei Royal Brunei Airlines [47] State-owned [47]
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria Bulgaria Air [48] Minority State-owned (0.01%) [49]
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil LATAM Brasil [50]
Flag of Burkina Faso.svg  Burkina Faso Air Burkina State-owned [51]
Flag of Cambodia.svg  Cambodia Cambodia Angkor Air [52] Majority (51%) [53]
Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon Camair-Co [54] State-owned [55]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Air Canada [56] NoneState-owned until 1989. [57]
Flag of Cape Verde.svg  Cape Verde TACV [58]
Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg  Cayman Islands Cayman Airways State-owned (100%) [59]
Flag of Chad.svg  Chad Chadian Airlines [60] Majority (51%) [61]
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile LATAM Chile [62] [63] NoneState-owned until September 1989. [64]
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China Air China [65] Majority (51.7%), in which: [66]
  • 40.98% through CNAHC (100% state-owned)
  • 10.72% through CNACG (100% owned by CNAHC)
State-owned until 2004, now indirectly controlled through parent companies. [67]
Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia Avianca [68] None
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia Croatia Airlines [69] Majority (98%) [70]
Flag of Cuba.svg  Cuba Cubana de Aviación [71]
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic Czech Airlines [72] None [72]
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  DR Congo Congo Airways [73] State-owned [73]
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark Scandinavian Airlines [74] Joint venture [nb 1]  
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden
Flag of Djibouti.svg  Djibouti Air Djibouti [77] Joint venture
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt EgyptAir [78] State-owned [79]
Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg  Equatorial Guinea CEIBA Intercontinental [80]
Flag of Eritrea.svg  Eritrea Eritrean Airlines State-owned
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia Nordica [81] State-owned [82]
Flag of Eswatini.svg  Eswatini Eswatini Airlink [ citation needed ]Joint venture
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia Ethiopian Airlines [61] State-owned [83]
Flag of the Faroe Islands.svg  Faroe Islands Atlantic Airways [84]
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji Fiji Airways [85] Majority (51%) [86]
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland Finnair [87] Majority (55.8%) [88]
Flag of France.svg  France Air France [89] Minority (18% share) [90]
Flag of French Polynesia.svg  French Polynesia Air Tahiti Nui [91] Majority [92]
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia Georgian Airways None
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Lufthansa [93] Minority (20.05%) of parent company since 2020 due to near-insolvency in cause of COVID-19 pandemic [94] [95] State-owned until 1994; [96] remaining government shares were sold in 1997. [97]
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece Aegean Airlines [98]
Flag of Greenland.svg  Greenland Air Greenland [99]
Flag of Guernsey.svg  Guernsey Aurigny [100] State-owned [101]
Flag of Guyana.svg  Guyana Caribbean Airlines [102] None
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong Cathay Pacific [103] Minority (6.08% by Hong Kong Government) [104]
Minority (16.03% by Chinese Government)
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland Icelandair [107]
Flag of India.svg  India Air India [108] State-owned [108]
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia Garuda Indonesia [109] Majority (60.536%) [110] State-owned until February 2011. [111]
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran Iran Air [112] State-owned [113]
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq Iraqi Airways [114]
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland Aer Lingus [115] [116] None – owned by IAG State-owned until September 2006. [117]
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel El Al [118] Minority (~1.1%) [119] State-owned until June 2004.
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Alitalia [120] State-owned [121]
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg  Ivory Coast Air Côte d'Ivoire [122] Minority (49%)
Flag of Jamaica.svg  Jamaica Caribbean Airlines [123] Minority (16%)
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan Japan Airlines [124] NoneState-owned until 1987. [125] [126]
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan Royal Jordanian [127]
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan Air Astana [128] Majority (51%) [129]
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya Kenya Airways [130] Minority (29.8%) [131]
Flag of Kiribati.svg  Kiribati Air Kiribati [132]
Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait Kuwait Airways [133] State-owned [134]
Flag of Laos.svg  Laos Lao Airlines [135] State-owned [136]
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia airBaltic [137] Majority (80.05%) [138]
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon Middle East Airlines [139] Majority (99%) [139]
Flag of Libya.svg  Libya Afriqiyah Airways [140] State-owned [141]
Libyan Airlines [142] State-owned [142]
Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg Luxair [143] Majority (73.86%) [144]
Flag of Macau.svg  Macau Air Macau [145] Minority (5%)
Flag of Madagascar.svg  Madagascar Air Madagascar [146] Majority
Flag of Malawi.svg  Malawi Malawi Airlines [147] Majority (51%) [147]
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia Malaysia Airlines [148] State-owned (100%) through Khazanah Nasional [149]
Flag of Maldives.svg  Maldives Maldivian
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta Air Malta [150] Majority [151]
Flag of Mauritania.svg  Mauritania Mauritania Airlines [152]
Flag of Mauritius.svg  Mauritius Air Mauritius [153]  
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico Aeroméxico [154] NoneState-owned until 2007.
Flag of Moldova.svg  Moldova Air Moldova [155]
Flag of Mongolia.svg  Mongolia MIAT Mongolian Airlines [156] State-owned [157]
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco Royal Air Maroc [158] State-owned [159]
Flag of Mozambique.svg  Mozambique LAM Mozambique Airlines [160] State-owned
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar Myanmar National Airlines [161] State-owned [162]
Flag of Nauru.svg  Nauru Nauru Airlines [163] State-owned [163]
Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal Nepal Airlines [164] State-owned
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands KLM [165] Minority (14%) [166]
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand Air New Zealand [167] Majority (53%) [168] State-owned until 1989, partially re-nationalized in 2001. [169] [170] [171]
Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea Air Koryo [172] State-owned [173]
Flag of Oman.svg  Oman Oman Air [174] Majority [175]
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan Pakistan International Airlines [176] State-owned [177]
Flag of Panama.svg  Panama Copa Airlines [178] None
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg  Papua New Guinea Air Niugini [179]
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines Philippine Airlines [180]
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland LOT Polish Airlines [181] State-owned [182]
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal TAP Air Portugal [183] Majority (72%) [184]
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar Qatar Airways [185] State-owned
Flag of the Republic of the Congo.svg  Republic of the Congo Equatorial Congo Airlines [186] Majority (70%)[ citation needed ]
Flag of France.svg  Réunion Air Austral [187]
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania TAROM [188] Majority (95%) [189]
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia Aeroflot [190] Majority (51%) [191]
Flag of Rwanda.svg  Rwanda RwandAir [192] State-owned [192]
Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.svg  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines SVG Air [ citation needed ]
Flag of Samoa.svg  Samoa Samoa Airways [193] State-owned [194]
Flag of Sao Tome and Principe.svg  São Tomé and Príncipe STP Airways [ citation needed ]None
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia Saudia [195] Majority
Flag of Senegal.svg  Senegal Air Senegal [196]
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia Air Serbia [197] Majority (51%) [198]
Flag of the Seychelles.svg  Seychelles Air Seychelles [199] State-owned (100%) [200]
Flag of the Solomon Islands.svg  Solomon Islands Solomon Airlines [201] State-owned (100%) [202]
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore Singapore Airlines [203] Majority (54.5% through Temasek Holdings [204] )
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa South African Airways [205] State-owned [206]
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea Korean Air [207] None [208] State-owned until 1969. [209] [210] [211]
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain Iberia [212] Minority (5%) [213]
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka SriLankan Airlines [214] State-owned [215]
Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan Sudan Airways State-owned [216]
Flag of Suriname.svg  Suriname Surinam Airways [217] State-owned [218]
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland Swiss International Air Lines [219] None – owned by Lufthansa [220]
Flag of Syria.svg  Syria Syrian Air [221] State-owned
Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Taiwan China Airlines [222] NoneState-owned until 1991. 51.28% held by non-profit Civic Aviation Development Foundation. [223]
Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania Air Tanzania State-owned
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand Thai Airways International [224] Majority (47.86%) [225]
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg  Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean Airlines [226] Majority (84%) [227]
Flag of Tunisia.svg  Tunisia Tunisair [228] Majority [228]
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey Turkish Airlines [229] Minority (49%)
Flag of Turkmenistan.svg  Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Airlines [230] State-owned
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda Uganda Airlines [231]
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine Ukraine International Airlines [232]  
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates Etihad Airways [233] State-owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi [234] [235]
Emirates [236] State-owned by the Government of Dubai through the Investment Corporation of Dubai. [237]
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom British Airways [238] NoneState-owned until 1987. [239]
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg  Uzbekistan Uzbekistan Airways [240] Majority
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela Conviasa [241]
Flag of Vietnam.svg  Vietnam Vietnam Airlines [242] Majority (86.2%) [242]
Flag of Vanuatu.svg  Vanuatu Air Vanuatu [243]
Flag of Yemen.svg  Yemen Yemenia [244] Majority
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe Air Zimbabwe [245] State-owned [245]

See also

Notes

  1. SAS is partly owned by the governments of Denmark and Sweden, and was partly owned by the government of Norway until June 2018. SAS is the flag carrier for all three nations. [74] [75] [76]

Related Research Articles

Aerolíneas Argentinas Flag-carrier airline of Argentina

Aerolíneas Argentinas, formally Aerolíneas Argentinas S.A., is Argentina's largest airline and the country's flag carrier. The airline was created in 1949 from the merger of four companies and started operations in December 1950. A consortium led by Iberia took control of the airline in 1990, and Grupo Marsans acquired the company and its subsidiaries in 2001, following a period of severe financial difficulties that put the airline on the brink of closure. The company has been run by the Argentine government since late 2008, when the country regained control of the airline after it was taken over from the Spanish owners. As of December 2014, Aerolíneas Argentinas was state-owned. It has its headquarters in Buenos Aires. SkyTeam membership was achieved in late August 2012; the airline's cargo division became a member of SkyTeam Cargo in November 2013.

Kenya Airways Ltd., more commonly known as Kenya Airways, is the flag carrier airline of Kenya. The company was founded in 1977, after the dissolution of East African Airways. Its head office is located in Embakasi, Nairobi, with its hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Air Mauritius Limited, operating as Air Mauritius, is the flag carrier airline of Mauritius. The airline is headquartered at the Air Mauritius Centre in Port Louis, Mauritius. Its main hub is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. Air Mauritius was placed in voluntary administration on 22 April 2020 in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Egyptair is the state-owned flag carrier of Egypt. The airline is headquartered at Cairo International Airport, its main hub, operating scheduled passenger and freight services to more than 75 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Egyptair is a member of Star Alliance.

SkyTeam is one of the world's three major airline alliances. Founded in June 2000, SkyTeam was the last of the three alliances to be formed, the first two being Star Alliance and Oneworld, respectively. Its annual passenger count is 630 million (2019), the second largest of the three major alliances. As of January 2019, SkyTeam consists of 19 carriers from five continents and operates with the slogan "Caring more about you". It also operates a cargo alliance named SkyTeam Cargo, which partners ten carriers, all of them SkyTeam members. Its centralised management team, SkyTeam Central, is based at the World Trade Center Schiphol Airport on the grounds of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands.

Kuwait Airways national carrier of Kuwait

Kuwait Airways is the national carrier of Kuwait, with its head office on the grounds of Kuwait International Airport, Al Farwaniyah Governorate. It operates scheduled international services throughout the Middle East, to the Indian subcontinent, Europe, Southeast Asia and North America, from its main base at Kuwait International.

Sudan Airways is the national airline of Sudan, headquartered in Khartoum. Since 2012, the company has been fully owned by the Government of Sudan.

Ethiopian Airlines Flag-carrier airline of Ethiopia

Ethiopian Airlines, formerly Ethiopian Air Lines (EAL) and often referred to as simply Ethiopian, is Ethiopia's flag carrier and is wholly owned by the country's government. EAL was founded on 21 December 1945 and commenced operations on 8 April 1946, expanding to international flights in 1951. The firm became a share company in 1965 and changed its name from Ethiopian Air Lines to Ethiopian Airlines. The airline has been a member of the International Air Transport Association since 1959 and of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) since 1968. Ethiopian is a Star Alliance member, having joined in December 2011. The company slogan is The New Spirit of Africa.

Royal Air Maroc Flag-carrier airline of Morocco

Royal Air Maroc, more commonly known as RAM, is the Moroccan national carrier, as well as the country's largest airline. RAM is wholly owned by the Moroccan Government, and has its headquarters on the grounds of Casablanca-Anfa Airport. It joined the Oneworld alliance in 2020. From its base at Mohammed V International Airport, the carrier operates a domestic network in Morocco, scheduled international flights to Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America, and occasional charter flights that include Hajj services.

Qatar Airways Company Q.C.S.C., operating as Qatar Airways, is the state-owned flag carrier of Qatar. Headquartered in the Qatar Airways Tower in Doha, the airline operates a hub-and-spoke network, linking over 150 international destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania from its base at Hamad International Airport, using a fleet of more than 200 aircraft. Qatar Airways Group employs more than 43,000 people. The carrier has been a member of the Oneworld alliance since October 2013, the first Persian Gulf carrier to sign with one of the three major airline alliances.

JSC Uzbekistan Airways, operating as Uzbekistan Airways, is the flag carrier airline of Uzbekistan, headquartered in Tashkent. From its hub at Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport, the airline serves a number of domestic destinations; the company also flies international services to Asia, Europe and North America.

TAAG Angola Airlines Flag-carrier airline of Angola

TAAG Angola Airlines E.P. is a state-owned airline and flag carrier of Angola. Based in Luanda, the airline operates an all-Boeing fleet on domestic services within Angola, medium-haul services in Africa and long-haul services to Brazil, Cuba, and Portugal. The airline was originally set up by the government as DTA – Divisão dos Transportes Aéreos in 1938, rechristened TAAG Angola Airlines in 1973, and gained flag carrier status in 1975. It is now a member of both the International Air Transport Association and the African Airlines Association.

Aegean Airlines S.A. is the flag carrier airline of Greece and the largest Greek airline by total number of passengers carried, by number of destinations served and by fleet size. A Star Alliance member since June 2010, it operates scheduled and charter services from Athens and Thessaloniki to other major Greek destinations as well as to a number of European and Middle Eastern destinations. Its main hubs are Athens International Airport in Athens, Macedonia International Airport in Thessaloniki and Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus. It also uses other Greek airports as bases, some of which are seasonal. It has its head office in Kifisia, a suburb of Athens.

Air Astana is the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, based in Almaty. It operates scheduled, domestic and international services on 64 routes from its main hub, Almaty International Airport, and from its secondary hub, Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport. It is a joint venture between Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna (51%), and BAE Systems PLC (49%). It was incorporated in October 2001 and started commercial flights on 15 May 2002.

Flynas

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Air Côte d'Ivoire is the flag carrier of Ivory Coast, based in Abidjan. The company succeeded the country's former flag carrier Air Ivoire, which went bankrupt in 2011. It started operations on 12 November 2012.

Air Serbia is the flag carrier of Serbia. The company's headquarters is located in Belgrade, Serbia, and its main hub is Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. The airline was formerly known as Jat Airways until it was renamed and rebranded in 2013. In 2021 the company was awarded the Order of Karađorđe's Star.

Jambojet Kenyan low-cost airline

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Ethiopian Airlines operates a fleet of Airbus A350, Boeing 737, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Boeing 787 and Bombardier Dash Q-400 making a total fleet of 128 aircraft.

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