In the margins of the EU Transport Council in Luxembourg, the European Union and Israel have today signed a comprehensive air transport agreement which will gradually open up and integrate the respective markets, develop an aviation area with common rules, offer economic benefits for consumers and new opportunities for the industry.
Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President responsible for mobility and transport, said: "Israel is a key partner for the EU and today's agreement is very important for further strengthening the overall economic, trade and tourism relations between Israel and the EU. We expect to see more direct flights to and from Israel, lower prices, more jobs and economic benefits on both sides. This agreement represents a significant further step in the implementation of the EU's renewed and reinforced external aviation policy adopted in 2012."
With this agreement, all EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Israel from anywhere in the EU and Israeli carriers will be able to operate flights to airports throughout the EU. The EU-Israel air transport market will be opened gradually over the next five years so that by 2018, the market will be fully open with no restrictions on the number of flights.
Based on similar experiences in the past with other countries, the gradual opening of the market is expected to encourage a larger number of direct connections. The gradual implementation of the agreement will give sufficient time for air carriers on both sides to prepare for increased competition.
In parallel to gradually opening up the markets, the agreement also aims to integrate Israel into a wider Common Aviation Area with the EU based on common rules. Israel will implement regulatory requirements and standards equivalent to EU aviation rules in areas such as aviation safety, environment, consumer protection, including passenger rights, air traffic management, economic regulation, competition issues and social aspects.
Facts and Figures
The EU is the most important aviation market for Israel, accounting for 57% of scheduled international air passenger movements to and from Israel. Similarly, Israel is one of the most important aviation markets for the EU in the Middle-East with a strong growth potential. In 2011, the EU-Israel traffic was accounted for 7.2 million passengers, which represents an increase of 6.8% compared to 2010.Today, there are scheduled direct passenger flight connections between Israel and 18 EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom).
A recent study carried out for the European Commission has estimated the total economic benefits of an EU-Israel air transport agreement to approximately 350 million € per year once market opening has become complete.
The agreement will replace bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and Israel.
The agreement will be a further step in creating a wider Common Aviation Area between the EU and its neighbours by 2015 which is a key objective of the EU's enhanced external aviation policy agreed in 2012 on the basis of the Commission's Communication "The EU's external aviation policy – addressing future challenges" (COM(2012) 556 final). Similar comprehensive aviation agreements with neighbouring countries have already been signed with the Western Balkan countries, Morocco, Jordan, Georgia and Moldova and negotiations are on-going with Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Lebanon and are planned to soon start with Tunisia.
In the course of 2013, the Commission will be making further proposals for implementing the new road-map for the EU's external aviation policy.
More information on international aviation relations of the EU at: