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On the evening of Tuesday, November 7th, Singapore Airlines was awarded the Wanderlust Readers’ Award for being the best airline in the world for the year 2023.
You don’t have to travel to Southeast Asia to experience the top-notch inflight service. Consider flying from northwest England to Texas instead.
The airline “SQ”, well-known in the aviation industry, offers three weekly flights connecting Manchester and Houston. This route is especially popular among individuals in the oil industry who travel from Aberdeen to Manchester on Loganair before embarking on a 10-hour journey with Singapore Airlines to America’s oil center.
Looking to travel to India? You can take a flight from London Heathrow to Mumbai with an airline that promotes “Flying the Flag”. In this scenario, the flag features the emblem of the Canadian maple leaf.
Is there a way to fly directly from Malta to Cyprus? The only option for a nonstop flight is with a top Gulf airline that offers spacious seating on wide-bodied planes.
These are just a few examples of “fifth-freedom” flights, where passengers travel on an airline not originating from their departure or arrival point. This practice is more common than one might realize and offers various advantages for travelers. It has been in use for nearly 80 years.
In the latter part of 1944, as the end of the Second World War approached, representatives from various airlines and governments of the Allies met in Chicago in an attempt to establish standardized guidelines for international aviation.
Although certain airlines were established after the conclusion of World War I, very few people actually traveled by air (and those who did faced significant dangers). However, it became evident that in times of peace, the world needed to be more interconnected. This led to the creation of the 1944 Chicago Convention, which introduced various types of air travel rights. The first four categories were relatively unsurprising:
Initial liberty: Soaring above a nation without touching down.
Second liberty: Similar to the first, but with the added allowance to refuel in a foreign country without permitting the embarkation or disembarkation of passengers or cargo.
Third liberty: The entitlement to travel from the nation where the airline is headquartered to a different country – which is well-balanced by the…
The fourth freedom grants individuals the ability to travel from a different country to the country where the airline is headquartered.
The fifth freedom is what makes things more intriguing: The privilege to travel between two overseas nations on a flight that begins or concludes in the country where the airline is headquartered.
During the 1900s, this was crucial due to the variety of aircrafts available. For instance, older versions of the Boeing 747 had to make a stop for refueling on routes such as Delhi to Toronto or Kuwait to New York. In order to do so, Air India and Kuwait Airways opted to land at London Heathrow.
Certain travelers originating from their local airports were only interested in flying to the UK, resulting in unoccupied seats. In order to fill these empty seats, both airlines reached agreements for “fifth freedom” privileges to operate transatlantic flights with newly boarded passengers, making them more affordable options for the route between Heathrow and JFK.
Advancements in technology have eliminated the need for mid-flight refueling. However, there are still potential advantages for both airlines and travelers. The Singapore-Manchester-Houston route is successful because some passengers desire to travel the full 11,523 miles, while others simply want to experience the Airbus A350 on the Singapore-Manchester leg, allowing room for those traveling between the UK and Texas.
Air Canada offers a comparable combination for its route from Toronto to Heathrow and Mumbai. This route is popular among passengers traveling from the biggest city in Canada to the commercial center of India. However, there are also passengers who are satisfied with only flying to London. At this point, Air Canada has the opportunity to sell tickets for the Heathrow-Mumbai route, competing with airlines such as Vistara, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, and Air India.
Without the benefit of being a home airline, Air Canada must lower prices in order to remain competitive. This presents an opportunity for the airline to promote its Canadian identity while flying to India, similar to when Air India offered the most affordable flights from Heathrow to Toronto.
The top performing fifth-freedom airline is Emirates, headquartered in Dubai. This airline operates several routes that connect two different destinations.
Currently, numerous passengers are delighting in the exceptional service provided on routes like Larnaca to Malta, offering comfortable long-distance travel in just two hours.
Every day, Emirates operates flights connecting Athens and Milan to New York. The most comfortable way to travel between Sydney and Christchurch is by taking the Airbus A380 across the Tasman Sea, which separates Australia and New Zealand.
British Airways also offers Caribbean flights, including routes to St Lucia and Georgetown. For £530, travelers can enjoy 100 minutes of comfortable, long-haul travel in Club World aboard a BA 777. Having options is always a plus.