Israeli and European Union representatives signed the “Open Skies” agreement in Luxembourg on Monday, which will open Israel to more air traffic with the continent, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Two months ago, Israeli airlines tried to block the accord and held brief strike, claiming it would harm domestic carriers with a wave of competition and cost many jobs. The airlines and unions dropped their opposition, however, after the government indicated that it was determined to go ahead with “Open Skies” and also agreed to defray much of the security outlays that burden the finances of the Israeli airlines.
The European Union issued a statement saying that the deal was signed in the margins of the EU Transport Council meeting.
Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President responsible for mobility and transport, said: “Israel is a key partner for the EU and today’s agreement is very important for further strengthening the overall economic, trade and tourism relations between Israel and the EU. We expect to see more direct flights to and from Israel, lower prices, more jobs and economic benefits on both sides.”
When the agreement comes into effect in 2018, EU airlines will be able 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.