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Israel Delays Open Skies Deal With Europe

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz directed Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority on Monday not to sign an “open skies” agreement with the European Union until his office examines the potential effects such an agreement would have on Israeli airline companies.

Talks on an “open skies” framework, which would replace a number of bilateral agreements with European countries with a single Israel-EU agreement, have been ongoing for several years, but a deal between the sides has proven elusive.

Such an agreement is meant to lower the price of flights by introducing competition in the form of new airlines into the Israeli market. The next round of talks between Israel and the EU is scheduled for March 20.

Katz promised on Monday that he would take into account the interests of Israel’s commercial airlines in any agreement to increase competition in Israel’s aviation sector.

In a meeting with the heads of Israel’s three commercial airlines – El Al, Arkia and Israir – Katz said he would not sign any such agreement before considering its effects on their economic standing.

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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