Fifth freedom flights have been in news this year. Especially, in the Middle East.
In January, there were rumors of Emirates restarting the Dubai to Hamburg to New York route using fifth freedom rights.
Then, earlier this month British Airways announced extension of its service of London – Bahrain to include Dammam. However, this technically is not a fifth freedom flight as passengers would not be able to travel only on the Bahrain-Dammam route.
What is Fifth Freedom?
Typically, airline use the hub-and-spoke model. For example, Emirates would have most flights either originating from or terminating to Dubai. A fifth freedom allows a carrier to fly between two cities which are not its hub. For instance, Emirates operates Milan to New York route.
There is one-catch though, your flights still have to originate or terminate at your hub. However, you can accept passengers and cargo from the other cities.
If you are interested in the other airline freedom rights, you can read this Wikipedia link.
Who are the Major Players?
Fifth freedom flights are used by airlines based in Africa to travel across the continent. Other than those, British Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines (including Scoot) are the other major players.
In terms of cities though, the South-east Asian airports see the most fifth freedom flights. This is because many aircraft cannot fly non-stop to Far East and Australia / New Zealand.
What is in it for Middle East?
While none of the cities in Middle East feature in above chart, fifth freedom flights are interesting in this part of the world. It enables some airlines provide direct service to / from their hubs with higher occupancy.
For example, Swiss Air flies on Muscat – Dubai – Zurich route. My guess is non-stop flights to Muscat alone will not make economic sense. There are several such cases.
Here is a list of all the fifth freedom flights in Middle East.
- Cathay Pacific – Dubai to Bahrain (round-trip)
- KLM – Muscat to Dammam (round-trip)
- KLM – Bahrain to Kuwait (round-trip)
- RwandAir – Dubai to Mombasa (round-trip)
- Swiss – Dubai to Muscat (round-trip)
- Thai Airways – Muscat to Karachi (round-trip)
There are some great deals to be found on some of these routes.
Bahrain to DXB business-class fares can be booked for as low as $389. Fares from competitors like Emirates, flydubai and Gulf Air are $1,200 plus.
Similarly, Muscat to DXB fares on Swiss are significantly lower than the competitors.