Qatar is expected to sign an open skies agreement with the European Union. On Tuesday both sides said they expect the agreement to be signed by the end of the year. The agreement would see each party have unrestricted access to the other party’s territories. This is according to a Qatar Airways press release.
The open skies agreement would be signed between Qatar and all 28 current EU member states. This would include the United Kingdom as the EU states “For the time being, the United Kingdom remains a full member of the EU and rights and obligations continue to fully apply in and to the UK.”
What Is Open Skies?
An Open Skies agreement attempts to further commercial aviation by “opening” the skies between two nations. Essentially, the agreement will minimise state intervention in passenger and cargo services. This means that effectively, operators who reside in other member states have unrestricted access to their counterparts.
Most open skies agreements include provisions for:
- Market force determined pricing;
- Marketing arrangements (for example, increased codeshares);
- Charter Regulations (operators can choose either country’s rules);
- Safety and security agreements;
- Equal opportunities to compete;
- Models for dispute settlement;
- Free competition in both markets.
Qatar and The EU
The new Qatar EU agreement will see “unlimited and unrestricted access” grated to either state in the other’s nation. A Qatar Airways statement stated, “all air carriers from the 28 European Union member states and Qatar now have unlimited and unrestricted access to their respective territories”.
Additionally, the airline added, “We approach the principle of fair competition very simply: fair access to markets, competing for market share based on products and services of what the customer wants and is willing to purchase.”
Currently, all EU carriers flying to Qatar are required to have a local sales agent in Doha in order to operate flights. This is mandated by Qatar, however, will be abolished under the open skies agreement.
Existing Bilateral Agreements
The new EU Qatar Bilateral Agreement will be made with all the current EU member states. However, Qatar has an existing bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom. As such, the effects of Brexit should not affect today’s announcement. Al Baker is quoted by the Gulf Times as saying “The agreement with the EU is very clear. Both sides understand that apart from the comprehensive agreement, the bilateral agreements, which we had, are still valid.”
He went on to add: “As far as Qatar is concerned, we have a bilateral air agreement with Her Majesty’s government in the UK. This does not get affected by the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement with the EU”
What do you think the new Qatar EU open skies agreement will achieve? Let us know in the comments down below!