What are the “Freedoms of the air” rules?

By David Hopwood | December 17, 2019

Yesterday we wrote an article about Qatar Airways and how they were NOT using the “fifth freedom” rights on one of their new flights and how that impacted their operation. So what are these “freedoms of the air” rules and how do airlines use them?

There are nine ‘freedom of the air’ commercial aviation rights.

The Fifth freedom allows an airline to carry paying passengers from B to C when the flight started in A, the home country. Air New Zealand for example, does this. One of their routes starts in Auckland and heads for Los Angeles. They drop off some of their passengers in LA, but they can also pick up new passengers in LA and take them to London.

What are the other rights?

All of them are rights granted by one State (or country) to another….

  • The first allows a carrier to overfly a country; from Paris to Beijing there’s a first freedom over Russia. But you’ll pay for the privilege!
  • The second allows you to land in a country (for example) to refuel-but not to embark or disembark passengers.
  • The third and fourth are reciprocal; allowing the airline to take passengers from home country to the destination country and back. As a negative example, Saudi Arabia denied Qatar Airways these in 2017; no traffic either way between the two countries.
  • Fifth is above.
  • The sixth freedom isn’t widely used. It allows the carrier to take passengers between two foreign countries, provided it lands in the home country, so Lufthansa could fly from Moscow, touch and go in Frankfurt and carry on to Cairo.
  • The seventh allows a direct commercial flight between two foreign countries for a carrier from a third. Brazil to Bolivia by Brussels Airlines, say.
  • The eighth freedom allows the carrier to carry traffic between two points in the same foreign county, so for example United carrying passengers between Lyons and Paris on a flight from Boston.
  • The ninth freedom doesn’t require the United flight to start in Boston. They can simply fly between Lyons and Paris.

Got it? Good! There’s a test on Friday inside the Mentour aviation app 😉. If you haven’t downloaded the FREE aviation news/social/training app, I suggest you use THIS LINK and download it now!

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