Freedoms of the Air

The signing of the Chicago Convention on International Aviation in 1944

By Romeo N. Dyoco 

WHEN nation-states began to be established on the face of the earth, one immediate concern was to establish jurisdiction and control over their territorial coverage. 

This was obviously politically and economically strategic. In fact, many ambitious nations sought to expand their territories even to the extent of waging wars against other nations. Conquests and colonization became major policy and strategic undertakings.

Each country, in most cases, easily defined the coverage and limits of its territory in terms of the land and the sea (waters). These geographic features lie on the earth’s surface and were clearly and physically accessible and exclusively subject to claims by man who during these times was mainly ground-bound.

However, the 20th century ushered in as one of its major developments in history, man’s conquest of the skies. 

Through self-powered machinery, man was now able to fly. This ability over lands and waters brought in a new factor to the tenability and function over established land and water boundaries and coverage of countries. 

These flying machines crossed these boundaries and flew over the territories of everyone. And they did, initially for exhibitions and adventure, sports and commerce. 

Later, airpower in terms of its significant role in times of conflict was dramatically demonstrated during World Wars I and II.

By the end of WWII, it became very clear that there was a need to rationalize and regulate the use and protocol of the skies. 

Theoretically, the countries’ boundaries extend down to the center of the earth and up to the skies until the far reaches of space (?). It is this airspace of a country which had to be defined along with the country’s jurisdiction and rights over its use.

In 1944, an international gathering in Chicago (known as the Chicago Convention) met to establish uniformity in the traffic rights to be agreed upon in international commercial aviation agreements. 

These will govern the traffic rights that grant a country’s airline/s the privilege to enter and/or land in another country’s airspace. These are now considered as the “freedoms of the air “.

The first freedom is the negotiated right for an airline from country A to overfly another country B‘s airspace, without landing.

The second freedom is the right of a commercial aircraft from country A to land and refuel in country B. There is no loading or unloading of passengers or cargo. This is known as a technical stop.

The third freedom is the right of an airline from country A to deliver revenue passengers from its country to country B.

The fourth freedom is the right of an airline to carry revenue passengers from another country B to its home country A.

The fifth freedom is the right of an airline to take passengers from its home country A, bring them to country B, pick up and carry other passengers to another international destination, country C.

The sixth freedom is the right of   an airline to carry passengers or cargo between 2 foreign countries, B and C, while touching down in between in its own home country A. (combination of 4th and 3rd freedoms).

The seventh freedom is the right of an airline to carry passengers originating from foreign country B, bypass its own country A, and bring the passengers to country C.

The eighth freedom is the right of an airline to carry passengers from one point in country B to another point in the same foreign country on a flight that originates from its home country A.

The ninth freedom is the right of an airline from country A to carry passengers originating the flight in foreign country B to another point within the same country. This is also known as stand alone cabotage.

The first and second freedoms are usually exchanged by most nations through International Air Services Transit Agreements. The other freedoms are usually established between countries through bilateral or multilateral air service agreements. 

 

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