Rights Of Air Carriers: An Overview


This Paper was presented at National Law Conference on Contemporary Issues & Concerns in Air & Space Law.


International air law is dominated by the principle of sovereignty over the airspace above a State’s territory forms the basis of all other regulations in air law. Hence, every state decides autonomously to which extent, by whom & when its airspace is used & the permission to use a state’s airspace is formally called ‘air traffic right’ & commonly called ‘freedom’. There are basically eight freedoms in international air law.

The first freedom gives the right to overfly the territory of a State without any landings; second grants the privilege to land in a foreign country for technical reasons; third gives the right to fly passengers, mail & cargo from the registration state to a foreign state; fourth correlates with the third freedom & grants the right to fly passenger, mail & cargo from a foreign state to the registration state; fifth extends the third & fourth freedom & grants the right to fly passengers, mail & cargo between two foreign states, as long as the origin or the final destination is in the registration state; sixth is a combination of the third & fourth freedom, enables an air carrier to offer air transportation between two foreign countries by making a stop-over in the home state of that air carrier; seventh grants a right to operate between two foreign countries, which are both not the registration state of the operating air carrier; eighth also called cabotage, grants a right to provide air transportation services within one single country.

The first & second are also called ‘technical freedoms’, & the rest commercially important rights are called ‘economic freedoms’. These rights have paved the way for Globalisation & Liberalisation & facilitated world trade & mobility, increased efficiency & have not only proved indispensable for tourism but also became a way of life.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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