The European Union (EU) and Pakistan have signed an agreement on civil aviation.
This pact lets airlines based in the European Union to operate flights to Pakistan from any member-state of the European Union that already has an agreement with Pakistan.
The aviation agreement, however, does not compel either Pakistan or the European Union to start new routes or enhance traffic but would stay as a matter for negotiation between Pakistan and individual member-states of the European Union.
According to aviation analysts, the signing of the aviation pact between Pakistan and the European Union restores, in effect, legal clarity to the aviation industry in general after the European Court had, in November 2002, ruled that bilateral agreements on civil aviation were illegal.
The European Court had also then ruled that such bilateral agreements, which only related to airlines headquartered in a single member-state of the European Union, discriminated against airlines operating out of the same member-state but headquartered in a different country in the EU.
In the light of the European Court’s ruling, the European Union had decided to sign “horizontal agreements” on behalf of the entire EU. And, these agreements effectively amend existing bilateral deals with a particular country to say that member-states of the EU and the third country agree to treat all European Union-based airlines equally.
The so-called horizontal agreements have been negotiated with 45 countries globally. Around 800 bilateral agreements on air services have already been modified by the joint efforts of the European Union and its member-states with a view to replacing nationality rules with the European Union airline designation.
In a statement, Antonio Tajani, vice-president of the EU Commission, said that the EU-Pakistan aviation deal signed on February 24, 2009, was “good news for airlines in both Pakistan and in the European Union as well as for passengers” as it removes the legal uncertainty from bilateral deals that exist at present.
According to him, the agreement signed between Pakistan and the European Union “recognises that airlines based in the European Union are not any longer national airlines but community airlines.”
The European Union, Tajani added, has negotiated similar agreements – which would practically take away nationality restrictions for EU-based airlines under existing bilateral air services agreements – with 45 countries.
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