Ethiopian Airlines Gains 5th Freedom Rights For Geneva-Manchester Flights

  • Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner ET-ARF

    Ethiopian Airlines

    IATA / ICAO Code:
    ET / ETH

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Hub (s):
    Addis Ababa Bole International Airport

    Year Founded:

    Star Alliance

    Mesfin Tasew Bekele


Ethiopian Airlines has obtained approval to operate fifth freedom flights between Manchester and Geneva this winter. The airline is set to launch its Manchester-Geneva-Addis Ababa route this year after serving Manchester via Brussels.

Ethiopian’s Geneva-Manchester fifth freedom rights

As a part of its upcoming Manchester-Geneva-Addis Ababa route coming this winter, Ethiopian Airlines has been granted the right to operate fifth freedom flights between Geneva (GVA) and Manchester (MAN).

This means passengers can book the GVA-MAN-GVA leg of the flight as a standalone fare. Ethiopian’s service between Geneva and Manchester will be a brief two-hour add-on to its approximately seven-hour flight between Geneva and Addis Ababa.


Before the pandemic, Ethiopian launched a four-times-weekly service between Addis Ababa and Manchester, connecting via Brussels. After commencing flights in December 2018, the airline planned to make Addis Ababa-Manchester a non-stop in July 2020, but its plans were shelved due to the COVID pandemic.

The airline looks set to deploy its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet on this route. An Ethiopian 787-9 offers capacity for 315 passengers – 30 in business class and 285 in economy – while its 787-8 fleet seats 270 – 24 in business and 246 in economy.

The African carrier’s widebody fleet consists of 19 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and 9 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets, along with 10 Boeing 777 and three Boeing 767 aircraft.

Fifth freedom flights explained

A fifth freedom flight is when an airline carries passengers between two foreign countries that are not its home country, so long as the flight originates or terminates in its home country. For example, Scoot (a Singaporean carrier) operates a London-Singapore service via Bangkok and sells tickets for the LGW-BKK leg.

Importantly, the leg of the flight between the two foreign countries must be bookable as a standalone fare to qualify as a fifth freedom flight. Simple Flying explored the freedoms of aviation in greater detail last year, noting that fifth freedom flights can offer incredible deals if you book at the right time.

The ICAO defines fifth freedom flights as,

“The right or privilege, in respect of scheduled international air services, granted by one State to another State to put down and to take on, in the territory of the first State, traffic coming from or destined to a third State.”

Along with the chance to snap up bargain fares, fifth freedom flights can give travelers more exciting options when booking flights. For example, passengers making the short two-hour hop between Manchester and Geneva would not ordinarily be able to fly this route onboard a widebody like a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, usually reserved for long-haul flights.

Ethiopian’s European network

Ethiopian Airlines’ European network boasts over a dozen destinations, many of which involve stopping en route at another European airport. The airline currently serves 15 European destinations, with only London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Paris Charles de Gaulle operated as non-stops from Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian has operated a wide range of fifth freedom routes over the years owing to its unique position to connect Africa with leading global destinations.

Have you flown with Ethiopian Airlines between Manchester and Addis Ababa? How did you find the flight? Let us know in the comments.

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