A Horizontal Aviation Agreement was signed on 29 September 2008 at the EU-India Summit in Marseille. This agreement will restore legal certainty to the bilateral air services agreements between India and 26 EU Member States.
The agreement will bring the 26 bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and India in line with EU law. Most importantly, it will remove nationality restrictions in the bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and India and thereby allows any EU airline to operate flights between India and any EU Member State where it is established and where a bilateral agreement with India exists and traffic rights are available.
The European Commission and India have also agreed on a Joint Action Plan setting out the priorities and modalities for future technical cooperation in a broad range of aviation areas including aviation safety, security, airports and air traffic management, environment and economic regulation.
The first EU-India Aviation Summit was held on 23-24 November 2006 in New Delhi and this high-level event was organised by the European Commission and the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India.
The Indian air traffic market is among the fastest growing in the world. In 2004, air traffic in India increased by some 25%. Since 1990, the number of seats available on scheduled non-stop flights between the EU and India has increased from 2.6 to 4.4 million in 2004 (+70%). In 2010 the overall EU–India air transport market was 5.28 million passengers. Average growth in passenger traffic between the EU and India has been +5.4 % during the last five years and in freight traffic +7.6 %. There was an increase of 34.3 % in freight traffic in 2010 compared to 2009. With such a rapid development in air traffic, important new challenges as well as opportunities are emerging and India is becoming a more and more strategically important market for European airlines, aircraft manufacturers and service providers.
Market opening and attempts to attract private and foreign capital to the Indian aviation market are seen as part of the measures necessary to develop and modernise India’s aviation sector in order to meet increasing demand and consumer expectations. India has therefore in recent years taken decisive steps towards opening up its aviation market.
The European Commission is convinced that there would be significant mutual benefits from a comprehensive Community-wide air service agreement between the EU and India and the Commission therefore proposed such a global agreement in September 2005 (Developing a Community civil aviation policy towards the Republic of India [COM(2005)409] ). Such an agreement should not only gradually liberalise market access and remove restrictions to doing business but should also promote a process of regulatory convergence for example with regard to aviation safety, security and environmental protection and competition. In addition, a wide range of technical areas of co-operation could be covered e.g. in relation to air traffic management technology.