Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Killing two birds with one stone: EU’s efforts to tighten aviation relations with Iran

The EU is seeking to tighten relations with Iran, to achieve multiple benefits: increase safety, boost European aircraft exports and reduce the leverage of Gulf rivals.

Last week, EU officials visited Iran to also discuss about aviation safety and establishing a horizontal air-traffic-services agreement. This move is part of the implementation of the EU aviation strategy, as communicated by the European Commission on 7 Dec. 2015, according to which the EU should increase its influence over third States through comprehensive air traffic services agreements, to promote growth. Aviation safety agreements and mutual recognition of safety certificates are an important aspect thereof: not only do they raise safety standards to the advantage of passengers, but they also contribute to exports of European aircraft. One of the first steps in the EU-Iranian aviation relations is to overcome the safety issues of Iran Air, many aircraft of which are being currently banned from flying into the EU, because they are included in the “black list” of airlines established under Regulation 2111/2005.

At the same time, it has been reported that increased cooperation between the EU and Iran would help the EU reduce the influence of Gulf States as hubs to other destinations. The European Commission and Members of the European Parliament think that Gulf carriers enjoy unfair State subsidies to the detriment of European carriers, which are subject to strict rules on State aid. Flights of European airlines through Iran could be a viable alternative for many European passengers, who are currently opting for their Gulf competitors.   

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