EU and Israel sign aviation agreement

EU and Israel signed a comprehensive air transport agreement in Luxembourg, during the EU Transport Council.

European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas commented: “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.”

In parallel to gradually opening up the markets, the aviation agreement also aims to integrate Israel into a wider Common Aviation Area with the EU based on common rules.

The Israeli government ratified the agreement, on 21 April, against a backdrop of strong opposition by Israeli airlines, which feel threatened by market opening. The airlines had called for postponement of ratification and workers staged strikes and demonstrations.

The total economic benefit of an EU-Israel air transport agreement is estimated to be approximately EUR350 million per year once market opening is complete.

This agreement will replace bilateral air services agreements between EU Member-States and Israel,

The EU is Israel’s biggest aviation market, accounting for 57% of scheduled international air passenger movements. In 2011, EU-Israel traffic accounted for 7.2 million passengers, an increase of 6.8% from 2010. Talks between Israel and the European Commission on Open Skies began in 2008 but both sides didn’t actually agree on a plan until last July.

Today, there are scheduled direct passenger flight connections between Israel and 18 EU member states.