The EU said its decision-making Council approved separate draft agreements with Armenia, Ukraine and Tunisia allowing the three countries to join the European Common Aviation Area, a single market for aviation services.
“The three neighborhood agreements will remove market restrictions in relation to the EU’s neighboring countries and associate these countries with the EU’s internal aviation market, as they will adopt EU aviation standards and implement EU aviation rules,” it said in a statement.
This will create “new opportunities” for airlines and travellers and “promote trade, tourism, investment and economic and social development,” said the statement.
The Council also gave the green light to the signing of a similar deal with Qatar.
“The four agreements are expected to be signed in autumn 2021,” the EU said, adding that they will have to be ratified by all of the bloc’s 27 member states.
Armenia and the EU officially started negotiations on a Common Aviation Area agreement in April 2017. The EU Delegation in Yerevan said at the time that it will enable airlines to operate Armenia-EU routes “without any limitations.”
Armenia’s former government lifted virtually all restrictions for European and other foreign carriers in 2013 when it liberalized the domestic aviation market. The South Caucasus country’s air traffic with the outside world grew rapidly in the following years, with more flight services launched between Yerevan and European cities.
The current Armenian government managed to attract two low-cost European airlines in 2019. One of them, Ryanair launched flights to and from Yerevan in January 2020 while the other, Wizz Air, was due to follow suit in April 2020. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced both carriers to cancel the new flight services.
In June 2020, the EU banned all seven airlines registered in Armenia from carrying out regular flights to EU member states, saying that they do not meet international safety standards.
Armenia’s Civil Aviation Committee downplayed the ban, arguing that only one local airline currently flies to Europe. At the same time the government agency pledged to take serious measures to address the EU concerns about flight safety.