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The 9 Freedoms of the Air


The 9 freedoms of the air are the set of commercial aviation rights allowing a country’s airlines the freedom to fly in and land in another country’s airspace. They were formulated due to disagreements over the extent of aviation freedom in the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. As the airline industry was growing at a rapid rate, countries were forced to make an official agreement with airlines at which the airline had limitations in where they could fly in other countries.


The first, and most basic, freedom of the air gives the right to fly over a country without landing. Almost every commercial flight and airline is allowed to do this, with exceptions. The EU has a long list of hundreds of airlines that are not allowed to fly over EU countries because they are considered dangerous. While it may seem obvious to allow an airline to fly over a country, however, the airspace above a country is called Sovereign Territory, which covers the area from land to space.


The second freedom of the air is the privilege for an airline to stop in a foreign country for fuel and maintenance, before moving on. While modern airliners have much longer ranges making these refueling stops not as common, it is still used to this day. Some flights that need a refueling stop include Qantas Airlines’ flight from Sydney, Australia to London, they have to make a stop in Dubai, UAE.


The Third Freedom of the Air is as simple as allowing an airline to fly to and land in another country. Almost every international airline is granted this freedom. Some examples of this are Air France’s Paris to New York flight or Singapore airline’s flight from Singapore to Dubai. The Fourth Freedom of the air is just the opposite, it allows an airline to fly commercially from another country to its own. There are almost no instances where an airline isn’t granted the third and fourth freedom together.


The Fifth, and final official freedom, allows an airline to fly from one foreign country to another, and then terminate or originate from its own country. The Fifth and Second freedoms are almost the same, however, they are not always granted together, like the Third and Fourth freedoms. In the Qantas Airlines flight from Sydney to London flight example, the second freedom allows Qantas to stop in Dubai for fuel before moving on. The Fifth freedom would allow Qantas to pick up new paying passengers in Dubai before continuing to London.


The rest of the freedoms of the air, 6-9, are not recognized officially by the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO. The Sixth Freedom of the Air allows an airline to fly from one foreign country to its own, before moving on to another foreign country. Almost all International Airlines have freedoms 1-6, allowing them to connect passengers to foreign nations around the world.


The Seventh Freedom of the Air allows an airline to fly from one foreign country to another, without connecting back to their own country. This freedom is not as common as the other freedoms of the air. 


The Eighth Freedom of the Air allows an airline to fly from two foreign nation cities, before continuing on to their own. Whereas the Ninth and final freedom of the air allows an airline to fly from one city to another in a foreign country to another foreign city, without connecting back to their country.


It is very rare to see an airline gaining access to fly domestic routes in foreign countries. As the aviation market continues to strive, the politics of aviation will continue to change as well. The Chicago Convention where these politics were settled, happened almost 80 years ago. It is almost certain that these rules will change in the near future because of more advanced technology. 

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About the Contributor
Burton Henry
Burton Henry, Author
Hi, my name is Burton Henry, I am an 8th grader. This is my first year writing for the Sun Devil Scoop! In my free time, I enjoy flying remote control planes at my local park, I am currently enrolled in flight school at a local airport and have started the ground school portion of my private pilot's license. Some of the stories I like to write/read about are world news, local news (such as in our school), and political news.

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