Ashkenazi thanked Israel`s ambassador to the EU Roni Lashano-Ya`ar and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs « for the professional and fundamental work that led to this important achievement, » and Finance Minister Jisrael Katz. In addition to opening up the market, the agreement also provides a modern framework and high standards for all aviation-related issues, such as air passenger rights, air traffic management, economic regulation, competition issues or social aspects. The EU said on Thursday that the agreement had brought « considerable benefits for both sides, and in particular for EU airlines, » but suggested that this week`s vote should not be interpreted as tacit approval of Israeli annexation plans. Israel`s ambassador, Ronny Leshno-Yaar, said the agreement showed the « resilience » of bilateral relations. In fact, the road to this final ratification has not been easy for Israel. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s annexation plan was strongly rejected by several EU member states, the ratification vote could have been postponed to a later date. The European Union could sanction Israel economically if the annexation plan were adopted by the Knesset, and the unse ratified « open skies » agreement could have been an instrument. Some left-wing groups in the European Parliament yesterday tried to postpone the vote until 1 July, the earliest date when Mr Netanyahu will be able to put his annexation plan to a vote, but their request was not accepted. « The open skies agreement has resulted in a significant reduction in airfares, as well as a significant increase in the number of tourists visiting Israel. It also offered Israeli tourists the opportunity to fly to a wider variety of European destinations, » the foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday. It was suspected that the European Union would refuse to approve the agreement as a form of sanctions against Israel because of its annexation plans. Negotiations between the European Commission and Israel on the new air services agreement began 12 years ago. Israeli cabin crew rejected the agreement, but it was signed in 2013 under Israel`s Transport Minister Katz and came into force immediately until it was officially ratified.
On Wednesday evening, the European Parliament ratified an important air services agreement with Israel. The « open skies » agreement is seen as an important boost to the Israeli economy, as it reduces airfares and promotes the creation of additional routes. The agreement contains a clause stressing that « the implementation of this agreement does not affect the status of territories that arrived after June 1967 under marginal and Israeli administration, » a spokesman for the EU mission in Ramat Gan told the Times of Israel. Arkia, the launch operator of Airbus` A320neoLR, is currently in a particularly expansionist state of mind. In addition, foreign LCs, led by Wizz Air, easyJet, Pegasus and Ryanair, continue to expand their share of seats to/from Israel. The open-air agreement between Israel and the EU, phased in between 2013 and 2018, has certainly revived Israeli air transport markets. « The ratification of this agreement will make a significant contribution to the rehabilitation of Israel`s tourism and aviation sectors. This is particularly important now that Israel is facing an economic crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic and is trying to resume flights and tourism. The « open skies » agreement makes it easier for European and Israeli airlines to fly directly between any EU airport and Israel.
It also provides a framework for a wide range of aviation issues, including air traffic management, passenger rights and competition. It is expected to reduce airfares, protect European and Israeli consumers and increase the number of European destinations for Israeli tourists.