New European Commission aviation strategy highlights concerns over Gulf airlines

The European Commission today published a new aviation strategy as it highlighted concerns over the way Gulf carriers operate in Europe.

It called for comprehensive agreements between the EU and GCC states based on common rules and transparency.

“European aviation is facing a number of challenges and today’s strategy sets out a comprehensive and ambitious action-plan to keep the sector ahead of the curve,” said EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc.

The publication of the strategy represents the opening salvo from the commissioner in what could be a protracted process to reshape aviation in Europe. Gulf carriers fear the new policy could curb their expansion.

Gulf airlines want to ensure that their flying rights under existing bilateral agreements with European countries are not thrown into jeopardy by any new aviation policy.

In a memo accompanying today’s announcement, the European Commission said that the UAE had more direct traffic with the EU than China, India and Japan combined.

It also said that the total number of seats available on scheduled flights between the EU and the six GCC states has increased from 12 million in 2005 to 39 million in 2015.

“While the additional connections provided by the Gulf airlines are welcome – there are concerns regarding the conditions under which they operate,” the EC said in a memo accompanying the announcement.

“Comprehensive aviation agreements between the EU and the GCC states would be the right way forward to bridge the interests of both sides by creating conditions that will allow further market development and growth based on common rules and transparency.”

Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways were not immediately available for comment.

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