This paper presents a method of describing an airlift bioreactor, in which biodegradation of a carbonaceous substrate described by single-substrate kinetics takes place. Eight mathematical models based on the assumption of liquid plug flow and axial dispersion flow through the riser and the downcomer in the reactor were proposed. Additionally, the impact of degassing zone with assumed complete mixing on the obtained results was analyzed. Calculations were performed for two representative hydrodynamic regimes of reactor operation, i.e. with the presence of gas bubbles only within the riser and for complete gas circulation. The conclusions related to the apparatus design and process performance under sufficient aeration of the reaction mixture were drawn on the basis of the obtained results.