The European Union and the Turkish authorities have today initialled an aviation agreement which will remove nationality restrictions in the bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and Turkey. This agreement will allow any EU airline to operate flights between any EU Member State and Turkey, where a bilateral agreement with Turkey exists and traffic rights are available.
This so-called "horizontal'" aviation agreement does not replace the bilateral agreements in place between EU Member States and Turkey, but adapts them to bring them into line with EU law. Currently, there are 42 such horizontal agreements between the EU and 50 countries worldwide. More than 800 bilateral air services agreements have already been modified by the joint efforts of the European Commission and EU Member States to replace nationality rules with the principle of EU airline designation.
The agreement is an important step towards further strengthening EU-Turkey aviation relations and will encourage traffic between the EU and Turkey. Air transport is crucial for relations between the EU and Turkey, linking people, cultures and businesses. Turkey is one of the key aviation partners of the EU. Passenger traffic between the EU and Turkey reached more than 25 million in 2008, making Turkey the third largest external aviation market for the EU in number of passengers, after the United States and Switzerland.
The agreement will open the way for further cooperation between the EU and Turkey in civil aviation including in the areas of aviation safety, security, air traffic management, technology, research and industrial cooperation, consumer and environmental protection, and competition.