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Singapore Airlines granted fifth freedom rights on Tokyo – New York

Singapore Airlines has been granted fifth freedom traffic rights between Tokyo and New York, allowing the airline to operate and sell seats on one of the world's most expensive city pairs

New York Skyline (Jonathan Riley)

On Monday this week during a visit to Singapore, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Mr Kazuyoshi Akaba announced that Singapore Airlines has been granted fifth freedom traffic rights between Tokyo and New York, a key international city pair currently only served by airlines registered in either Japan or the USA.

“We sincerely hope that this will be a new milestone, or a new step in possible cooperation opportunities for Singapore and All Nippon Airways in codesharing flights and other areas.” Kazuyoshi Akaba

It’s interesting that cooperation with ANA is specifically mentioned here. The fellow Star Alliance carrier already operates twice daily on the Tokyo – New York route (once from Haneda and once from Narita), with both flights now offering the airline’s latest First and Business Class cabin products.

Singapore Airlines already codeshares on ANA’s daily Haneda to New York flights, but not the Japanese carrier’s flights from Narita to JFK, which don’t time appropriately to connect with SIA services to or from Changi and currently operate under joint venture with SIA “frenemy” United Airlines.


What are fifth freedom rights?

Essentially, the right to carry revenue traffic between two cities in different countries, neither of which are the airline’s own country of registration, when operating a service which also connects to or from the airline’s home country.

Singapore Airlines already operates a number of such services, including Hong Kong to San Francisco (continuation of SIN-HKG) and Moscow to Stockholm (continuation of SIN-DME).

We have a full guide to SIA’s fifth freedom routes, which goes into more detail on the concept.

Which aircraft?

It’s a 12 hour 30 minute flight from Tokyo to New York, with an increased duration of 14 hours 15 minutes on the New York to Tokyo sector against prevailing winds in the winter season.

Nonetheless at approximately the same distance as Singapore to London, the route is comfortably within the range of four Singapore Airlines aircraft types:

  • Airbus A350 (3-class)
  • Airbus A350 ULR
  • Airbus A380
  • Boeing 777-300ER

Technically the Boeing 777-200ER is also perfectly capable of operating this route, though those aircraft have the older cabin products and are in the process of being completely phased out of the fleet.