Switzerland’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted a UAE request to operate fifth freedom services between Switzerland. This could allow Emirati carriers to operate up to fourteen (14) Geneva to Mexico services weekly.

The Fifth Freedom of the Air allows an airline to start a flight in its own country, land in a second country to drop off passengers and cargo, and then pick up new passengers and fly on to a third new country. This freedom is rarely granted.

Qantas stops its planes in Asia on its ultra long haul Kangaroo Route between Sydney and London for refueling, but it isn’t allowed to pick up or drop off passengers during the stop.
Photo Sour: YouTube / Aviatorspot

Note that this is different than rights granted to airlines like Qantas on ultra long-haul routes. Under the Second Freedom of the Air, planes are allowed to land in countries that they are flying over for technical stops. Qantas’ Kangaroo Route, which flies between London and Sydney, currently stops in Dubai (soon to be Singapore) to refuel. Qantas is not allowed to pick up or drop off passengers at this stop under normal circumstances. Technical stops can include stops to refuel or stops due to emergencies.

You can read more about the five freedoms of the air by clicking here.

Despite Switzerland’s approval, this UAE proposal isn’t in the clear. The route is still pending approval from Mexican authorities. Unlike conventional point-to-point routes, service under the 5th freedom needs approval from three governments before it can be implemented.

Emirates currently flies its A380s between Dubai and Zurich, but it will reconsider aircraft choice if it starts flying between Zurich and Mexico City.
Photo Source: Lorenzo Schaaf / @ljspotter

Emirates has been interested in Zurich-Mexico flights for about six months. They first requested permission from Swiss authorities for the route at the end of February. But why Switzerland, and why not just fly non-stop?

To the first question, Switzerland is often more likely to grant fifth freedom fights that other European countries. Though Emirates has expressed interest in flying the route through Berlin, doing so would require them to cut other German routes due to its bilateral agreement with Germany.


An Emirates 777. The Middle Eastern airline wants to wait until it takes delivery of the 777x before making a decision on wether to fly from Dubai to Mexico non-stop.
Photo Source: Alec Mollenhauer / Layoverhub

To the second question, Emirates doesn’t currently have an aircraft that would allow it to fly nonstop between Dubai and Mexico City. Due to the elevation of Mexico City airport, which is 7316 feet (2230 meters) above sea level, Emirates needs to wait until 2020 to fly the route directly, when it takes delivery of its first Boeing 777-X aircraft.

There are currently multiple flights between Zurich and Dubai. Most notably, Emirates operates two A380 flights on the route while Swiss uses an A330-300.

Featured Image by Alec Mollenhauer.

Categories: Flyer Talk


Developing: Switzerland Grants UAE 5th Freedom Rights To Mexico

  1. Only when the 777X actually flies will we know if it is able the Mexico Dubai route. Boeing is advertising it will, but it would not be the first time the Boeing expectations does not exactly meet the delivered reality…
    Taking off from Mexico in summer can be VERY limiting with Density Altitude way above 10000 feet.

  2. There is no market for a direct flight. No Indians, no Chinese live in Mexico. Even with the 777X the route would fail, just like it did with the flight to Panama… the only way to make it happen is if it stops in a major city in Europe. Zurich could be an option but would require good connectivity options. Also, remember Zurich has curfew limitations. It will not compete with direct flights to Germany, Italy, Spain and London. Those are major tourism hubs. Not Zurich.

  3. As a matter of fact, Qantas does have and use it’s fifth freedom rights in DXB. Twice daily as a continuation of its SYD and MEL services and vice versa to its Australian ports.

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