Three major U.S. airlines along with 11 Republican lawmakers mentioned that Qatar is making use of an Italian carrier in order to set up and create a ‘fifth freedom’ flight to the US. They are highly dissatisfied with the Qatar Airways and have even accused Qatar of breaking the commitment of not starting a so-called ‘fifth freedom’ flights to the US.
Delta, American Airlines, United Airlines along with their allies in Washington DC are objecting the use of a new service Air Italy by Qatar. Qatar has around 49% shares in the carrier service, Air Italy. However, the airline companies along with the legislators are stating that Qatar is trying to use Air Italy as a substitute in order to enter the US. Hence, it tries to breach the terms of an Open Skies pact made between the US and Qatar.
Basically, fifth freedom flights are dubbed after the principles of the freedom of the air. The principle states that the airline would set off its journey from its home country towards a second country and collect passengers. After that, it would be resuming its journey towards a third country which isn’t its home country.
The Air Italy’s way to the U.S. are not fifth freedoms as it flies from Air Italy’s home country. However, as Qatar owns almost half of Air Italy, the tracks are a proxy for actual Qatar Airways fifth freedom flights.
In January, as part of a settlement with the major U.S. carriers, the Qatari government promised that Qatar Airways won’t begin a fifth freedom flight to the U.S. Technically speaking it hasn’t done so; however, with the nation holding almost 49% stake in Air Italy, Qatar declared to start direct flights from Milan to Los Angeles and Milan to San Francisco. This announcement has raised anger.
The major airlines along with the senators stated that Qatar has breached the agreement and trust of the US. Qatar has been trying to duck the promise and create a loophole. A spokesperson from the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, which is campaigning for the US airline industry made this statement.