Israel, EU sign ´open skies´ agreement (JERUSALEM POST) By BEN HARTMAN 03/23/12)
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Cheaper flights and better service should be on the way for Israeli
travelers, following an agreement reached between the European Union
and Israel in Tel Aviv on Thursday that will see the development of a
common aviation area between the Israel and the EU.
The so-called "Open Skies" agreement is the result of eight rounds of
negotiations held between the two sides since December 2008.
According to the European Commission, the agreement is expected to
increase travel opportunities and economic benefits both for Israel
and countries across Europe.
In a press release issued Thursday, Siim Kallas, EU commissioner for
Transport said the agreement "is very important for further
strengthening the overall economic, trade and tourism relations
between Israel and the EU. Israel is a key partner for the EU and the
agreement will do much to develop the aviation links between the two
partners and establish a high level of regulatory convergence".
The agreement means that all airlines in the EU will be able to
operate direct flights to Israel from any location in the EU, and
Israeli airlines will be able to fly to all airports in the EU. The
EU said Thursday that due to the agreement, by 2017 the market will
be completely open with no limits whatsoever on the number of flights
between Israel and the EU.
The agreement is expected to encourage an increase in the number of
direct flights from Israel to more destinations across Europe at
lower prices. In addition, prices are expected to drop for Europeans
traveling to Israel.
The agreement will also require Israeli carriers to implement EU-
level regulatory requirements in safety, consumer protection, air
traffic management, economic regulation, competition issues, and
environment, among other areas.
According to EU figures, the EU-Israel air transport market accounted
for 6.75 million passengers in 2010. The EU accounts for some 57% of
international air travel from Israel., and there are direct flight
connections between Israel and 16 EU member states (Austria, Belgium,
Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,
Italy, Latvia, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and the United
The EU said Thursday that the agreement is part of efforts to create
a wider Common Aviation Area between the EU and its neighbors. The EU
has already signed such agreements with neighbors in the Balkans,
Morocco, Jordan, Georgia, and Moldova, and is carrying out
negotiations with Ukraine, Lebanon, and soon with Azerbaijan and
Tunisia. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/23/12)
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