|Air transportation is
different to most other forms of commerce, not only because of its
international components but also because of its governmental
participation and the fact that many national airlines or 'flag
carriers' are either in large part government owned, or, even if not,
are felt by the government to reflect the prestige of their nation.
In addition, nations often feel that they
can only rely on their locally owned carriers to have a commitment to
providing service to their own country. This is unimportant if
you're a small country in Europe with excellent road and rail service to
other countries, but if you're a remote island in the Pacific, air
service is essential.
And so, for reasons variously good or bad,
international air travel has long been subjected to all manner of
complicated restrictions and bilateral treaties between nations. One
of the main treaties that sets out the fundamental building blocks of air
transportation regulation - the 'rules of the road' - is the Chicago
Convention in 1944.
These 'building blocks' are
widely referred to as the "freedoms
of the air", and they are fundamental to the international route network we
have today. The first two are basic freedoms that are, more or less, recognized by all countries,
the next three are at least widely understood, and accepted to varying
degrees. Then the last four become much less common - two
are less widely accepted, and the last two are hardly accepted at all.
Each is subject to specific
conditions, such as establishing the frequency of flights, that are
determined through bilateral agreements between any two of the countries
that are parties to the Convention.
- The right to fly and carry traffic over the territory of another partner
to the agreement without landing. Almost all countries are partners to the
Convention but some have observed this freedom better than others. When the
Korean airliner lost its way over Soviet air space a few year ago and was
shot down, the Soviet Union (among other offenses!) violated this First Freedom.
- The right to land in those countries for technical reasons such as
refueling without boarding or deplaning passengers.
- The right of an airline from one country to land in a different country and deplane passengers coming from
the airline’s own country.
- The right of an airline from one country to land in a different country and
board passengers traveling to
the airline’s own country.
- This freedom is also sometimes referred to as 'beyond rights'.
It is the right of an airline from one country to land in a second country,
to then pick up passengers and fly on to a third country where the
passengers then deplane. An example would be a flight by American
Airlines from the
US to England that is going on to France. Traffic could be picked up in
England and taken to France.
- The right to carry traffic from one state through the home country to a
third state. Example: traffic from England coming to the US on a US
airline and then going on to Canada on the same airline.
- The right to carry traffic from one state to another state without going
through the home country. Example would be traffic from England going to
Canada on a US airline flight that does not stop in the US on the way.
- This is one form of cabotage (or sometimes 'true cabotage) and is
rare. Airline cabotage is the carriage of air traffic that originates
and terminates within the boundaries of a given country by an air carrier of
another country, and for purposes of the Eighth Freedom, is in the context
of an airline that started or ended the flight series in its home country,
even if the passenger only travels within the foreign country. An example
of this would be an
airline like Virgin Atlantic Airways operating flights between London, Chicago and
New Orleans and carrying passengers between only Chicago and New Orleans.
- This is similar to the Eighth Freedom, and is the right to operate flights
within a foreign country but without continuing or prior service
to or from the carrier's home country. This is the rarest of the
freedoms, although it can be seen, more or less, operating within the EU
(although these days the EU considers itself to be one big country for
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written 12 November 2002, last update
30 May 2021
Copyright 2002,3 by David M
You may freely reproduce
or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.