Qatar, EU set to sign open skies agreement

Qatar and the European Union have agreed to terms for an open skies agreement that would open up the air travel markets of all European Union member countries for the Gulf nation.

The two sides are expected to sign a formal agreement later this year.
The open skies agreement is part of a broader air services agreement that includes provisions on fair competition, transparency, the environment and consumer protections.
The agreement means “all air carriers from the 28 European Union member states and Qatar now have unlimited and unrestricted access to their respective territories,” Qatar Airways said in a statement.
European Commission Director General for Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei told a CAPA summit in Doha the deal would help ensure open and fair markets. He did not elaborate.
An open skies agreement with the EU would give the over-subsidised Qatar Airways an advantage over other carriers.
“We have taken bold steps by agreeing to articles on fair competition, social aspects, business practices and transparency,” Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker said.
Qatar on its part, would no longer force European carriers to have a local sales agent to operate flights to Doha, Baker added.
“Qatar has committed to offer a fair and friendly business environment and as a result European airlines will enjoy unrestricted commercial opportunities unlike ever before,” said Baker.
Hololei said talks with Oman on a similar deal would start in March. The United Arab Emirates had declined to engage in negotiations, he added.
Qatar’s talks with the EU follow an agreement reached last year with the United States to disclose detailed financial information about Qatar Airways.