The Fly America Act
refers to the provisions enacted by Title 49 of the United States Code
, Subtitle VII, Part A, subpart I, Chapter 401, 40118 – Government-Financed Air Transportation.
The Fly America Act is applicable to all travel funded by United States federal government funds and requires the use of "U.S. flag" airlines (not to be confused with flag carriers) with a few exceptions. These individuals include U.S. federal government employees, their dependents, consultants, contractors, grantees, and others.
The Fly America Act is incorporated into the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) at Subpart 47.4—Air Transportation by U.S.‑Flag Carriers and is, therefore, applicable to all U.S. government contracts issued to U.S. and non‑U.S. companies, except for commercial item
contractors, which are exempt from the act under Part 12.503 of the FAR.
According to the United States Department of State
(Transportation Department, Aviation), the Fly America Act applies equally to non-U.S. nationals and non-U.S. companies or their representatives both within the United States and extraterritorially, regardless of enforcement difficulties or possible infringements of international law and personal liberty
that this could represent.
The Fly America Act is generally regarded as being anti-competitive and as unfairly favoring U.S. airlines and can result in significant travel budget issues. However, it does offer U.S. airlines some recompense for the U.S. government's Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program and provides balance against some of the existing, largely obsolescent and, in many cases, inequitable bilateral
U.S./non‑U.S. Air Transport Agreements (ATAs). This partly accounts for the U.S. State Department
's reluctance to grant exception in accordance with 40 USC 40101 (e), International Aviation Policy or any other exemption provisions (see below). The U.S. is systematically replacing these ATAs by Open Skies agreements, which are considerably more liberal in their reciprocal arrangements.
The Fly America Act does not prohibit travel funded by civilian government agencies on carriers associated with nations that have a qualifying "bilateral or multilateral agreement
" with the United States; however, travelers must complete a declaration that such an agreement exists. Although the United States has entered into more than 100 Open Skies agreements, only a few of them are considered qualifying "bilateral or multilateral agreement[s]"; they are the agreements with the European Union (including non‑EU members Norway and Iceland), Australia, Switzerland, and Japan. A full list of Open Skies partners is available from the U.S. State Department.