Questions and answers: EU and Armenia sign a Common Aviation Area Agreement

(Source: European Commission)

1. Overview

The goal of Europe’s Aviation Strategy is to ensure the best possible connectivity for passengers and businesses, whilst maintaining high standards for safety, fair competition, the environment and social issues.

In 2016, the Commission received a mandate from the Council to negotiate a “Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA)” with Armenia. The negotiations were concluded in 2017, but due to the dispute between Spain and the UK over the airport of Gibraltar, it was not possible for the EU to sign the agreement earlier. The agreement signed today will, for the first time, put in place a single set of rules for air transport services between the EU and Armenia.  

2. What are the benefits of the EU-Armenia aviation agreement?The new agreement will replace the EU Member States’ bilateral aviation agreements with Armenia and create a Common Aviation Area between Armenia and the EU. Armenia will progressively align its aviation legislation with EU rules in areas such as safety, security, air traffic management, economic regulation and the environment. The Agreement will also gradually enhance market access to the benefit of consumers, provide new business opportunities for European companies and ensure fair and transparent market conditions, based on a clear regulatory framework. It will provide more connections and better prices for passengers. Global connectivity is a driver of trade and tourism and directly contributes to economic growth and job creation.

Going far beyond traffic rights, the EU-Armenia agreement will provide a single set of rules, a level playing field with strong provisions for fair competition, and a platform for future cooperation on a wide range of aviation issues (safety, security, air traffic management (ATM), environment etc.).

The agreement ensures that new traffic rights will gradually be made available, provides new business opportunities for European companies, and ensures fair and transparent market conditions, based on a clear regulatory framework. Global connectivity is a driver of trade and tourism, and contributes directly to economic growth and job creation.

3. I am an EU citizen – what is in it for me?

The EU-Armenia aviation agreement will improve connectivity, provide more options in terms of direct routes and operators and offer more competitive prices for passengers.

The agreement will ensure the highest standards for passenger safety and security, consumer protection, fair competition, the environment and air transport workers’ rights.

4. How will Armenia integrate into the European Common Aviation Area?

The integration of Armenia into the European Common Aviation Area requires the effective and full implementation of EU aviation rules and standards in areas such as aviation safety, security, air traffic management, the environment, economic regulation and consumer protection, to be carried out progressively through two transitional periods.

Compliance by Armenia with the relevant EU requirements and standards will be monitored by the European Commission through technical assessments, as well as compliance inspections by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for aviation safety.

5. What possibilities does the agreement offer in terms of market access?

Following the signature of the aviation agreement, both Parties will immediately be able to exercise full, so-called ‘third and fourth freedom traffic rights’. This means that EU and Armenian airlines will be able to provide an unlimited number of direct services between any point in the EU and any point in Armenia and vice versa.

Once Armenia has complied with all the relevant EU requirements and standards, Armenian carriers will also be able to operate flights between the EU Member States under the condition that the operation also serves a point in Armenia, i.e. so-called ‘fifth freedom traffic rights’ (for example, Yerevan-Copenhagen-Brussels). Such rights will also be granted to EU carriers, which will be able to operate to points in Armenia and beyond.

6. What kind of commercial opportunities will the agreement provide, in addition to traffic rights?

The Agreement provides a series of business-related prospects aimed at facilitating airline operation, such as code share arrangements, pricing freedom, access to ground handling services, leasing as well as intermodal transportation. Moreover, the Joint Committee that is established by the Agreement to ensure the overall monitoring of the application and functioning of its provisions, is entrusted to deal with any particular “doing business” issue.

7. Does the agreement contain provisions on environmental protection and social matters?

The Parties have agreed to cooperate in these areas. Additionally, Armenia has agreed to implement certain aviation-specific EU environmental and social standards and measures.

8. Will Armenia need to comply with future EU aviation legislation?

The agreement includes an annex with the list of the EU acquis that Armenia agreed to implement. Additionally, the agreement provides that the Joint Committee will regularly update the list of EU legislation that needs to be complied with.

9. Will the agreement guarantee fair competition between Armenian and EU airlines?

Guaranteeing fair competition in air transport markets is one of the key objectives of the EU when negotiating air transport agreements. There can be no open aviation markets without a level playing field.

The Agreement contains strong safeguards in this respect to ensure fair competitive practices by air carriers. Notably, subsidisation and support of airlines is subject to strict criteria based on the EU’s competition policy rules. Detailed dispute settlement procedures are also foreseen, in case disagreement between the Parties should arise.

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