Effects of the aviation agreement between Israel and Europe

There is no reason why a small country such as Israel should have three international airlines that compete with each other and with dozens of foreign carriers flying regular and charter flights to the country.

The strange situation is a result of wrong decisions by the managements and by the Israeli antitrust commissioner. This government official has rejected any preliminary attempt to talk about consolidation. The reason? He thinks this will decrease competition and affect passengers.

You would have to be ignorant not to realise that the real competition comes from the large number of foreign airlines. The commissioner even revoked some code share agreements between Israeli and foreign airlines. That worsened their situation. Wrong decisions are being made across the board.

But something might change. The Israeli airlines claim that the upcoming Common Aviation Area agreement between Israel and Europe will put them in real danger.

The airlines, EL AL, Arkia and Israir have asked the minister of transport to re-evaluate the agreement that is being formed and the minister promised to look at the problem before the deal was signed.

It will be very bad if the agreement is not signed, but I think it will be signed, in spite of the opposition of the Israeli airlines. The facts are clear to everyone with a basic understanding of the aviation market. So there are signs that the Israeli airlines are for the first time really thinking about consolidation.

The main hurdle remains the strange policy of the antitrust commissioner. If this official does not understand the situation, someone higher up should explain it in plain words.

If the agreement with Europe is undermined, and if, in parallel, the three Israeli airlines continue to operate as they do now, only a miracle will see them earn the money to keep operations in the current pattern.

With the threat of the agreement, the current situation might make some people understand that the aviation industry has been undergoing huge changes and that they cannot be blocked by the passport controllers in Ben-Gurion international airport.

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