Jan. 31, 2024

Air taxi operators operating under FAR Part 135 are now better able to provide lift for presidential election campaigns under a blanket waiver issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that removes restrictions on single-entity charters.

Under DOT regulations, air taxi operators generally only sell charter flights to single entities (i.e., charging only one entity for the flight, rather than charging for individual seats. Although these air taxi operators may conduct charter flights as “public charters” under 14 CFR Part 380, doing so requires complex financial arrangements, as well as specific disclosure and advance notice requirements.

However, presidential election campaigns travel with Secret Service protection, and typically a pool of journalists, and these passengers often are required under law to reimburse campaigns for their travel. To avoid the financial complexities of these itineraries, the DOT, as in previous presidential election cycles, has waived the single entity payment rule to make it easier for presidential and vice-presidential campaigns to charter flights.

“The presidential campaign charter service is specialized and tailored to the specific needs of the candidates. The security protection furnished by the Secret Service is provided by law, and the news coverage provided by the news media representatives accompanying the candidates provides a valuable service to the public,” the DOT stated in its waiver. “The president and vice president are the only nationally elected officials, so the need for the instant waiver in order to utilize air transportation in the conduct of the campaign is clear and unique.”

Review the DOT’s waiver.

The waiver also extends to charter flights for the 2024 Republican Convention, scheduled for July 15-18 in Milwaukee, WI, and the 2024 Democratic Convention, set for Aug. 19-22 in Chicago, IL, enabling state delegates, state and national party committee members, and their immediate family members, to travel to and from the conventions.

The waiver expires Nov. 12, one week after the general election.

“NBAA commends the DOT for its proactive approach to meeting the needs of the 2024 presidential campaigns,” said Doug Carr, NBAA senior vice president of safety, security, sustainability and international affairs. “Part 135 operators are the perfect choice to meet the particular needs of a presidential campaign, and with this waiver, our members are in a better position to determine if a campaign charter is the right decision for them.”

Presidential campaigns often require charter services on short notice, so NBAA encourages its members to be ready to respond should a campaign approach them. We note that this waiver does not apply to Part 91 operators, although FAR 91.321 provides a limited exception for Part 91 operators to accept reimbursements by candidates, where such reimbursement is required by federal, state or local law.

NBAA members can learn more about DOT and Federal Election Commission regulations at the association’s dedicated Carriage of Elected Officials and Candidates resource.