A horizontal agreement between Azerbaijan and the EC was signed on 7 July 2009.
European Commission received an authorisation from the Council of European Union on 6 October 2011 to start negotiations with Azerbaijan on a Common Aviation Area Agreement. The first round of negotiations started on 24 January 2013 in Baku.
The horizontal aviation agreement does not replace the bilateral agreements in place between Azerbaijan and 19 EU Member States, but brings these in line with EU law. Most importantly, it removes nationality restrictions in bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and Azerbaijan. It thereby allows any EU airline to operate flights between Azerbaijan and any EU Member State if there is a bilateral air services agreement and if free traffic rights are available.
As part of the process of creating a wider Common Aviation Area with its Eastern and Southern Neighbours, the European Commission adopted in August 2011 a Communication on developing a Common Aviation Area with the Republic of Azerbaijan, and requested an authorisation from the Council to negotiate a comprehensive EU-Azerbaijan Common Aviation Area Agreement providing for gradual market opening and a high level of regulatory convergence in areas such as aviation safety, aviation security, air traffic management, environment and consumer protection. The Council granted such an authorisation on 6 October 2011.
A study prepared for the Commission on the economic benefit of a Common Aviation Area Agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan estimates that an additional 860,000 passengers would fly between the EU and Azerbaijan over a period of five years following an agreement, journey times would reduce, fares would drop and the number of destinations available to consumers would increase. The study forecasts the economic benefit of a Common Aviation Area Agreement to be around €46 million during the first five years after liberalisation (mainly due to increased connectivity, lower air fares, increased air travel and associated economic activity). The first round of negotiations took place between the 24 and 25 of January 2013 in Baku, Azerbaijan, with the next round tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2013.