Posted on March 06, 2019

The State of Qatar and the European Union have initialed a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA) in Brussels on Monday 4 March 2019, and signed a Memorandum of Consultations (MoC), which is set to open a new era of stronger cooperation and connectivity.

The agreement was initialed by the President of Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA), His Excellency Mr. Abdulla bin Nasser Turki Al Subaey, and the Head of Unit, International Transport Affairs, European Union Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, Mr. Carlos Bermejo-Acosta, in the presence of Qatar's Minister of Transport and Communications, His Excellency Mr. Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, and His Excellency Qatari Ambassador to Belgium, Mr. Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Khulaifi.

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From the European side, the ceremony was attended by European Commission Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Mr. Jyrki Katainen and Head of Cabinet for European Commissioner for Transport Mr. Matej Zakonjsek. Member States represented by their respective civil aviation authorities, who were party to the negotiations, included major European airlines, key aviation industry associations and specialised agencies, including the Airports Council International.

This agreement is the first of its kind between the European Union and a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member State, providing a significant competitive edge to air carriers of both sides and a sustainable framework for the launch of future passenger and cargo operations in the few remaining restricted markets in Europe.

As part of this agreement, the State of Qatar and the European Union have taken bold steps by agreeing to articles on fair competition, environment, consumer protection, social issues and transparency. The agreement offers an enhanced friendly business environment to European Union air carriers and a wide range of exemptions and flexibility while doing business in the State of Qatar.

Qatar's Minister of Transport and Communications, His Excellency Mr. Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, said: “This agreement, which reflects the EU’s trust in Qatar’s potentials, will allow for the liberalisation of the fundamental mobility rights between Qatar and EU markets - one of the oldest and largest in the world in the realm of air transport. This will contribute to increasing the mobility, tourism and trade exchange between Doha and EU capital cities, widening the partnership with EU countries and developing our national carrier’s network, thus supporting economic growth across all sectors.

“This agreement is a completion to the pivotal role the State of Qatar has been playing in developing the global air transport industry and also boosts Qatar’s ranking as one of the leading countries in the region in air transport. The agreement also recognises the key role our civil aviation bodies play and their compliance with global standards as well as the role of Qatar Airways, which is widely recognized as one of the best carriers in the world and the best in terms of efficiency and quality, while consistently reporting the highest growth rates regionally and universally.”

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “This historic landmark agreement will open doors to a host of new opportunities for airlines in Europe and Qatar, ensuring fair access to markets. The negotiations have proven how positive engagement can build trust among nations. Our hope is that the proven success of these negotiations will encourage other trading blocs and significant aviation markets to join in helping to achieve a liberalised global aviation regime for future generations”.

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said, "The EU-Qatar agreement is not ONLY an aviation agreement. It creates strong foundations for a long-term relationship promoting fair and free trade, high standards and a single set of rules and values."

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European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said, “We delivered!...Qatar was the first partner with whom we launched negotiations following our adoption of the Aviation Strategy for Europe – now it is also the first one to cross the finish line! More than that – the agreement sets out ambitious standards for fair competition, transparency or social issues. It will provide a level playing field and raise the bar globally for air transport agreements. This is a major upgrade compared to the existing framework, and our joint contribution to making aviation more sustainable!”

The conclusion of the Qatar-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement was initially announced during the CAPA Qatar Aviation Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit held in Doha on 5-6 February 2019. Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of more than 230 aircraft via its hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA) to more than 160 destinations worldwide. A multiple-award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Business Class’ by the 2018 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Business Class Seat’, ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’.

Qatar Airways has launched an array of exciting new destinations recently, including Gothenburg, Sweden; Mombasa, Kenya and Da Nang, Vietnam. The airline will add a number of new destinations to its extensive route network in 2019, including Malta, as well as many more.

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