As smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft Fifth Freedom routes less prevalent, many carriers have cutback on them. But RwandAir recently started an interesting new Fifth Freedom route.
What is a Fifth Freedom Route?
Fifth Freedom is the right for an airline to fly between two foreign countries during flights in which the flight originates or ends in one’s own country. For example, Emirates flies from New York (JFK) to Milan (MXP) to Dubai (DXB). The JFK-MXP sector is a Fifth Freedom flight.
For a primer on the five freedoms, this video is very hepful:
Historically, Fifth Freedom flights have maximized aircraft utilization and allowed for service that would have been otherwise unsustainable from the airlines’ home base.
RwandAir’s Mumbai – Guangzhou Service
Earlier this year, RwandAir, the flag carrier of Rwanda, began a Fifth Freedom route between Mumbai (BOM) and Guangzhou (CAN), a continuation of its flight from Kigali (KGL) to BOM.
Flights to CAN operate three times per week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) using Airbus A330-200
I stumbled upon the route by accident this week. An Award Expert client needed to travel from Guangzhou to Mumbai and it turns out that RwandAir is the only operator of nonstop service between the two cities. I found that a bit surprising since Guangzhou is China’s third largest city and Mumbai is India’s largest.
The flight operates according to following schedule:
WB500 dep BOM 12:50PM – arr CAN 9:40PM
WB501 dep CAN 11:30PM – arr BOM 03:20AM+1
Tickets run about $1100 round-trip or $800 each way in business class or $455 r/t or $343 one-way. Flight time is six hours eastbound and six hours, 40 minutes westbound.
RwandAir has lie-flat seats in business class similar to what you’ll find on SAS.
I love exotic new Fifth Freedom routes. That said, I am surprised that RwandAir has no competition on this route. With Sino-Indian relations warming (somewhat), air links between the two nations may increase even further.
image: Pedro Aragão / CC 3.0