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What are The Nine Freedoms Of The Air?

International Airline Operations

The Nine Freedoms Of The Air grant and authorize your country’s airlines the privilege and permission to enter another country’s airspace and to land at another country’s airport.

You may ask what significance this has to you as a passenger. The answer is, it has a big importance for you.

Without the Nine Freedoms, your airline would not be allowed to carry you to your international destination!

How do the Nine Freedoms Of Air serve you?

The Nine Freedoms Of The Air acts as “a passport for your airline”, allowing the carrier to fly you to your international destination.

But it has nothing to do with your personal passport that you use for your international travel.

It shapes the core principles of the route within the international commercial aviation route network.

How did the Freedoms come about?

The Convention on International Civil Aviation was drafted in 1944, and then signed by 54 nations.

The Freedoms were drafted as a part of that Convention.

Later, the Convention became known as the Chicago Convention.

Video explaining each of the freedoms. Prepared for Ozyegin University, Turkey. YouTube.

The language of The Nine Freedoms Of The Air

Each freedom starts with the same three words: “the right to“.

1st Freedom Of The Air

The right to fly over a foreign country or territory without landing there.

2nd Freedom Of The Air

The right to refuel or carry out maintenance in a foreign country without embarking or disembarking passengers or cargo (land in another country for nontraffic related purposes).

3rd Freedom Of The Air

The right to fly from one’s own country to another. An airline may disembark passengers or drop off cargo from its own country in a foreign country.

4th Freedom Of The Air

The right to fly from another country to one’s own. An airline may board passengers or cargo between a foreign country as part of a service that originates in the carrier’s own country.

5th Freedom Of the Air

The right to fly between two foreign countries on a flight originating or ending in one’s own country.

6th Freedom Of The Air

The right to fly from a foreign country to another while stopping in one’s own country for non-technical reasons. This 6th Freedom can be considered a combination of the 3rd and 4th Freedoms.

7th Freedom Of The Air

The right to fly between two foreign countries while not offering flights to one’s own country. An airline is allowed to pick up passengers or cargo from a country that is not its own. Then the airline can deliver these passengers and cargo to a third country, which country still is not the airline’s own. But this can be done only if the flights to the two countries do not connect to the airline’s home country.

8th Freedom Of The Air

The right to operate inside a foreign country, continuing to one’s own country (referred to as “consecutive cabotage“). An airline may transport passengers or cargo between two domestic points inside a foreign country. But, in order to operate that way, the flight must either originate in or be destined for the airline’s home country.

9th Freedom Of The Air

The right to fly within a foreign country without continuing to one’s own country (referred to as “stand-alone cabotage”). An airline may transport passengers or cargo between two domestic points in a country foreign to that airline.

How countries or geographical territories negotiate the level of agreements between each other

Of the nine individual freedoms countries typically agree on the exchange of the 1st and 2nd Freedom. This is achieved through an international air services transit agreement.

Additional freedoms are then negotiated through air services agreements between the two countries, which are bilaterally or multilaterally agreed upon.

Do you have any questions or comments? Let us know.

Updated and republished August 2, 2020.

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Featured photo credit: USAF

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