Fly America Act

(Reprinted from GC-1, NSF Grant General Conditions)


Use of U.S.-Flag Air Carriers

The Comptroller General of the United States, by Decision B-138942 of June 17, 1975, as amended March 31, 1981 and January 5, 2009, provided guidelines for implementation of Section 5 of the International Air Transportation Fair Competitive Practice Act of 1974 (49 U.S.C.1517). Any air transportation to, from, between, or within a country, other than the United States, of persons or property, the expense of which will be assisted by NSF funding, must be performed by a US-flag air carrier, if service provided by such a carrier is available.

For the purposes of this requirement, US-flag air carrier service is considered available even though:
(a) comparable or a different kind of service can be provided at less cost by a foreign-flag air carrier;
(b) foreign-flag air carrier service is preferred by, or is more convenient for, the Foundation or traveler; or
(c) service by a foreign-flag air carrier can be paid for in excess foreign currency.

The following rules apply unless their application would result in the first or last leg of travel from or to the United States being performed by a foreign-flag air carrier:
(a) a US-flag air carrier shall be used to destination or, in the absence of  direct or through service, to the farthest interchange point on a usually traveled route.
(b) if a US-flag air carrier does not serve an origin or interchange point, a foreign-flag air carrier shall be used only to the nearest interchange point on a usually traveled route to connect with a US-flag air carrier.
(c) if a US-flag air carrier involuntarily reroutes the traveler via a foreign-flag air carrier, the foreign-flag air carrier may be used notwithstanding the availability of alternative US-flag air carrier service.


Use of Foreign-Flag Air Carriers

There are limited circumstances under which use of a foreign-flag air carrier is permissible:
(a) a foreign flag air carrier may be used if the transportation is provided under an “open skies” air transportation agreement between the United States and a foreign government.  For information on “open skies” agreements in which the United States has entered, please refer to GSA’s website: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/103191
(b) a US-flag air carrier involuntarily reroutes the traveler via a foreign-flag air carrier, notwithstanding the availability of alternative US-flag air carrier service.

Travel To and From the United States. Use of a foreign-flag air carrier is permissible if:
(a) the airport abroad is the traveler's origin or destination airport, and use of US-flag air carrier service would extend the time in a travel status by at least 24 hours more than travel by a foreign-flag air carrier; or
(b) the airport abroad is an interchange point, and use of US-flag air carrier service would require the traveler to wait 6 hours or more to make connections at that point, or would extend the time in a travel status by at least 6 hours more than travel by a foreign-flag air carrier.

Travel Between Points Outside the United States. Use of a foreign-flag air carrier is permissible if:
(a) travel by a foreign-flag air carrier would eliminate two or more aircraft changes en route;
(b) travel by a US-flag air carrier would extend the time in a travel status by at least 6 hours more than travel by a foreign-flag air carrier; or
(c) travel is not part of the trip to or from the United States, and use of a US-flag air carrier would extend the time in a travel status by at least 6 hours more than travel by a foreign-flag air carrier.

Short Distance Travel.  For all short distance travel, regardless of origin and destination, use of a foreign-flag air carrier is permissible if the elapsed travel time on a scheduled flight from origin to destination airport by a foreign-flag air carrier is 3 hours or less and service by a US-flag air carrier would double the travel time.

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