Israel and the European Union on Thursday finalised an aviation agreement aimed at opening up and integrating their markets, a joint statement said.
After eight rounds of talks the two sided agreed "finalised negotiations on a comprehensive aviation agreement" that will boost trade and tourism ties between Israel and the European Union, the statement said.
"The agreement will gradually open up and integrate the respective markets, strengthen cooperation and offer new opportunities for industry, including airlines, and consumers.
"It is expected that the agreement will offer more travel opportunities, more direct connections and economic benefits for both sides.
"The comprehensive aviation agreement reached in Tel Aviv today is very important for further strengthening the overall economic, trade and tourism relations between Israel and the EU."
The agreement caps talks that started in December 2008 and must be formally signed by authorities in Israel and the EU before it can be implemented.
In line with the deal, EU airlines will operate direct flights to Israel from anywhere in the world and Israeli carriers will also fly to airports across the EU, in a move that will reduce flight costs for travellers.
"The EU-Israel air transport market will be opened gradually so that by the start of the summer season in 2017, the market would be fully open with no restrictions on the number of weekly flights between Israel and the EU," the statement said.
by Sardar Ahmad Â© 2012 AFP
Date: Mar 22, 2012