The European Union and Israel have started discussions over a unified global aviation agreement to open skies for competition in civil aviation, which is expected to increase travel destinations and significantly bring down the price of airline tickets. "This is the first time Israel and the European Union will discuss a number of agreements that are intended to boost the traffic of airline companies and increase the freedom of choice for passengers," said Gideon Siterman, director-general of the Transportation Ministry, who is heading the talks with the EU. "This move is expected to significantly reduce the prices of airline tickets and increase the number of destinations by airline companies." In last week's talks in Jerusalem with a delegation from the the EU, Siterman launched the first step for the commencement of discussions over a global aviation agreement that would replace existing bilateral agreements between individual EU countries and Israel and open the skies between Israel and EU countries to competition. Official talks are expected to commence in November and will take between a 12 and 18 months to complete. Representatives of the EU delegation said that similar agreements signed between the EU and the Balkan countries and the US and Morocco showed that both sides benefited from increased flight activity. They added that the agreement with Israel was expected to lead to a significant reduction in the cost of airline tickets and package holidays for the Israeli traveler.