If you’ve been paying attention to the subject of Open Skies, you’ve probably heard the term “fifth freedom” thrown around a lot, if not “first freedom,” “second freedom,” and so on as well. Well, what is the “fifth freedom” in aviation and what does it have to do with Open Skies?

Quite a lot, actually. The freedoms of the air are the rights that govern commercial aviation worldwide, and in total there are 9 freedoms that address a range of scenarios. Established under the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation, some of these freedoms are easy to understand. For example, the first freedom of the air gives an airline the right to simply fly over a foreign country, while the third freedom gives an airline the right to fly from their home country and land in a foreign country.

However, it’s the fifth freedom that has been the subject of interest in recent years. This freedom gives an airline the ability to fly between two foreign countries on their route, so long as their route starts or ends in the airline’s home country. For example, if a U.S. airline started their flight in Los Angeles, made a stopover in London, and carried on to a final destination of Rome, that would be a fifth-freedom flight.

Fifth freedom flights are incredibly important to the greater aviation industry, but especially to consumers, as they provide cheaper flight options on routes that typically break the bank. And thanks to Open Skies, the United States and the foreign partners that we’ve negotiated these agreements with can continue providing these worthwhile routes to passengers.

Ensuring that consumers have the best – and cheapest – options when purchasing tickets is just one of the common-sense reasons why Open Skies should be protected.

If you’re interested in exploring fifth-freedom flights for yourself, here is a great overview from The Points Guy.