Caribbean Airlines Eyes Fifth Freedom Island Runs

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The Trinidadian carrier Caribbean Airlines has filed an application to run a multistop route between Port of Spain and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Above all, with this route, the airline aims to improve the connectivity in the Caribbean, PaxEx.aero reported.

Caribbean Airlines
Caribbean Airlines plans three new routes between Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons

Why can the airline do this?

The airline filed the application yesterday with the Department of Transportation (DOT) of the United States. As Caribbean Airlines plans to stop in several countries in the region, the airline is planning to operate these routes as fifth freedom.

Caribbean Airlines bases its application on the 2010 Air Transport Services Agreement between the United States and Trinidad and Tobago. It says that airlines of Trinidad and Tobago can fly from its country and “intermediate points to any point […] in the United States and beyond.”

Nevertheless, there’s an interesting twist of events. Currently, Caribbean Airlines is not allowed to operate this milk route. Why not? Because the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago didn’t renew its authorization, which expired on 21 December 2019.

That’s why the airline is actually filing the application. Caribbean Airlines “hereby seeks to reinstate the same authority exemption it has been granted and it operated under for over a decade.” The carrier added that the reinstatement will result in no additional impact on U.S. carriers.

Caribbean Airlines
The route would stop in other countries like Dominica, St. Maarten, and Barbados. Photo: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia Commons.

How it will work?

Caribbean Airlines says it has permits to operate the route with stops in Dominica and Tortola, British Virgin Islands. But the airline wants to add more stops. So it is proposing three new routes to the DOT.

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The first route will begin in Port of Spain with stopping points in Dominica, Barbados, Antigua, Tortola, and San Juan. On the three routes, the aircraft will stay overnight in Puerto Rico.

The airline would launch this route on 1 August 2020. Also, the carrier would operate it with two weekly flights. The first leg of the trip would be on Tuesdays and Fridays while the return would happen on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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The second route would have stopping points in Dominica, Barbados, St. Maarten, and Tortola, before arriving in San Juan. Caribbean Airlines plans to launch this flight on 3 August with two weekly flights on Sunday and Wednesday. The returns would be on Monday and Thursday.

Finally, the third route would have stopping points in Dominica, Barbados, St. Kitts, Antigua, and Guadeloupe. It would begin on 4 August with three weekly flights on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

The airline plans to operate these routes on an ATR 72-600 turboprop with 68 economy class seats.

The route will be flown by an ATR-72. Photo: PEDRO ARAGAO via Wikimedia

Other examples of fifth freedom around the world

The fifth freedom is one of the most controversial air freedoms. For example, last year Aeromexico claimed it was unfair to have Emirates flying between Dubai and Mexico City via Barcelona.

Actually, Emirates operates a bunch of fifth freedoms. For example, other airlines that do it are KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Air China, among others.

Certainly, there are some examples where fifth freedoms could be seen as commercial hazards. But in this case, the Caribbean is one of the regions which depends on the most on air connectivity. And ironically, it is one of the regions least connected, not with the outside world, but within itself. So fifth freedoms actually help in the development of this area.

While there are some crazy ideas out there, like Fly Oriole and its A380 fleet, we hope Caribbean Airlines gets approved to launch these new routes.

Would you be interested in flying the whole route between Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico? Let us know in the comments.

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