The general elections and the air agreement with the EU

The most elastic substance in the universe is a politician – and the general elections in Israel next week may prove that once again.

After aborting the plan to sign an aviation agreement with Europe last December, the ceremony may be again on the agenda. What last month suddenly became out of the question may again become a normal signing ceremony.

The Israeli government’s decision angered the EU officials involved in preparing the agreement.

It also angered parties in Israel that understand the necessity of this agreement. Nothing in the basic facts changed last month. There was no real reason for the delay.

The official explanation: the short time before the general elections in Israel, and the need not the make “far reaching steps in such a time”.

The real reason: an attempt to get support on election day from groups that are afraid of the competition the air agreement will start.

The new Israeli government will have no excuse not to sign the agreement, and it will be interesting to see if someone tries to bring up a new creative reason.

The agreement, when signed, will allow all EU airlines 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, so that by the start of the summer season in 2017 the market would be fully open, with no restrictions on the number of weekly flights between Israel and the EU.

Based on the experience of similar agreements signed with other EU-neighbouring countries, the gradual opening of the market is expected to encourage a larger number of direct flights from Israel to more destinations in Europe at lower prices than today, while also reducing flight prices to Israel for European travellers.

In parallel to gradually opening up the respective markets, the agreement also aims to integrate Israel into a wider Common Aviation Area with the EU.

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.

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