NEW AIR SERVICE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE EU AND QATAR PAVE THE WAY FOR CLOSER AIRLINKS
(Posted 06th February 2019)
In the face of continued hostility by Qatar’s neighbours, which includes an illegal air blockade, have the EU and the State of Qatar now signed a new air services agreement.
The European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport, Mrs. Violeta Bulc, was the one who announced that the European Union and the State of Qatar have concluded negotiations for a landmark Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement.
This historic agreement will be the first of its kind ever between the EU and a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member state, providing a significant competitive edge to air carriers of both sides and a sustainable framework for future operations. As a result, all air carriers from the 28 European Union member states and Qatar now have unlimited and unrestricted access to their respective territories.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Through these negotiations, both sides have demonstrated that positive engagement can build trust among nations, so they can embrace the benefits of competition. Our hope is that the success of these negotiations will encourage other trading blocs and significant aviation markets to join in achieving a liberalised global aviation regime for future generations. The agreement will offer a common platform for airlines in Europe and Qatar to understand each other better, creating new opportunities for collaboration and cooperation. 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.”
European Commission Director General Mobility and Transport, Mr. Henrik Hololei, said: “We are very pleased to have concluded our negotiations with the State of Qatar here in Doha today. Thanks to the strong commitment of all parties, we have managed to reconcile our differences and found common ground through honest engagement and open dialogue.”
As part of this agreement, the State of Qatar and the EU have taken bold steps by agreeing to articles on: fair competition, environment, consumer protection, social aspects, and transparency, as well as the inclusion of a doing-business provision, which exempts EU carriers from the obligation to hire a local General Sales Agent in Qatar.
Through this historic agreement, which was announced during the CAPA Qatar Aviation, Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit in Doha, the State of Qatar has demonstrated once again that despite the ongoing intra-regional geopolitical tensions due to the illegal blockade imposed on the nation, it remains a leader on the global stage.
Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of more than 230 aircraft via its hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA) to more than 160 destinations worldwide.
A multiple-award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Business Class’ by the 2018 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Business Class Seat’, ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’.
Qatar Airways will add a number of new destinations to its extensive route network in 2019, including Malta.
The new agreement has already irked Qatar’s neighbours, especially the UAE, where the Qatari football team earlier this month won the Asia Cup in the face of needle prick inconveniences and notably – another reason why one should be most careful when deciding to visit the UAE – the arrest of a British citizen supporter of the Qatari team for wearing a team t-shirt. Promoting Qatar in any way, shape or form appears to be a criminal offence in the UAE and even posts like this one could lead to arrests and criminal prosecution by the archaic UAE legal system.
Notably have negotiations between the EU and the UAE reached a stalemate, if not collapsed altogether and sources attribute this to not only the hostility from the UAE side against Qatar which may have prompted the Europeans to set a political signal but also outrageous demands by the UAE aviation authorities. Those demands were clearly aimed to outflank Qatar, an attempt which has now spectacularly backfired and failed.
In Eastern Africa does Qatar Airways serve Entebbe, in conjunction with Kigali, on a daily basis while flying three times a day to Nairobi and four times a week to Mombasa. In Tanzania does Qatar Airways serve Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar/