EL AL Plane 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
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 the parties have held 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
In a press release issued Thursday, Siim Kallas, EU commissioner
for transport, said the agreement allows for further strengthening of economic,
trade and tourist 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 statement read.
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 in turn will be able to fly to any EU airport.
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
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
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The agreement will also require that Israeli carriers implement
EU-level regulatory requirements in safety, consumer protection, air traffic
management, economic regulation, competition issues and environment, among other
According to European Union figures, the EU-Israel air transport
market accounted for 6.75 million passengers in 2010. The EU accounts for some
57 percent 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 Kingdom.
The EU said
Thursday that the agreement is part of an effort 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
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