Colin Baker / Edinburgh

The agreement, which was signed in early May, will see eight Balkan states – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo – join the ECAA, along with non-European Union (EU) nations Iceland and Norway.

The ECAA will now have 35 members covering a population of 500 million. The European Commission (EC) has been pushing the extension of the single aviation market to neighbouring countries at a time when attempts to establish a liberalised EU-US aviation area have proved slow-going.

Since the European Court of Justice ruled in November 2002 that nationality clauses in bilateral agreements were illegal, the EC and member states have been renegotiating air service agreements with non-EU states.

In the past year-and-a-half, Brussels and member states have amended over 400 bilaterals to bring them into line with the ruling. A total of 62 countries have recognised the EU single market in their air services agreements, allowing European air carriers to operate flights between any EU member state and these countries.

This change has taken place either through bilateral negotiations with member states – as is the case with the United Arab Emirates, Dominican Republic and Senegal – or in so-called horizontal negotiations with the EC.

Some 23 countries, including Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Morocco, Georgia and Ukraine, have corrected all their bilateral agreements with EU member states in a horizontal agreement with the EC. Negotiations on more horizontal agreements are currently under way, Brussels says. ■

Source: Airline Business