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Usually, we can see many cargo flights operating between 2 foreign countries (and even as domestic flights within a foreign country in some cases). There are passenger flights that operate in the same way, but they are much fewer in number.

For example, this is an image of Fedex planes flying over Asia, and none of them originate/terminate at US:

enter image description here

But if you take any passenger airline, then it is very unlikely that they will have so many 5th and 8th freedom flights. Why do more cargo flights than passenger flights enjoy these freedoms?

So, what's happening here? Are cargo airlines awarded 5th and 8th freedom rights more easily, or do passenger carriers simply don't apply for them, frequently, or something else?

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    $\begingroup$ Since I had to look it up, here is what Freedoms of the Air mean. It should also be noted that in the referenced Wikipedia article, it states specifically that China and Russia were not a signatory to the International Air Services Transit Agreement that founded these "freedoms". And for obvious reasons airliners want to avoid overflights of war-torn areas like Pakistan and Afghanistan. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Sep 13 '16 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer yeah they want to avoid Afghanistan air space, but Pakistani air space is quite busy actually. Many Indian aircraft use it as well, as Indian Air Force has restricted the use of far western air space in India.. $\endgroup$ – anshabhi Sep 13 '16 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ Let us skip Pakistani airspace, airlines request Centre $\endgroup$ – anshabhi Sep 13 '16 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ At least in the U.S., many of the cargo flights of East Asian carriers were/are second freedom flights, stopping in Alaska (or perhaps Hawaii) to refuel. Carrying only half the fuel and refueling midway makes the trip cheaper. Passengers don't like that, so it's mostly been abandoned for passenger flights, but cargo doesn't care. $\endgroup$ – reirab Sep 13 '16 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer Looking at FlightRadar24, I can see dozens of aircraft over Afghanistan and Pakistan, from airlines including Ethiad, BA, Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa. It doesn't seem like anyone is particularly avoiding those regions. $\endgroup$ – MJeffryes Sep 14 '16 at 20:47
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I think the answer is simply that Cargo is far less picky about how it gets to its destination, as compared to People. A pallet can easily take three different flights to arrive at it's recipient, whereas most passengers wouldn't tolerate so many transfers.

Fifth freedom cargo flights are also often irregularly scheduled. For example, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport receives the occasional cargo flight from Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines. It frequently receives flights from Korean Air Cargo and Cargolux, but these often originate at a variety of cities, such as Chicago, Dallas, or Anchorage.

In short, cargo is more flexible, which allows cargo airlines to be more flexible.

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Due to the necessities of freight delivery, it is much more cost effective to arrange regular bulk shipments to distribution hubs for sorting before dispersing the packages out for delivery to their final destinations. Most of the major freight carriers have hubs located around the world.

freight hubs

In many cases these may distribute to smaller warehouses located inside individual countries before being resorted and placed on trucks or vans for delivery. This shuffling inevitably leads to numerous flights that depart from one country and land in another, neither of which is the original country of registry for the aircraft.

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