The EU and Maldives signed a horizontal aviation agreement on 21 September 2006, which allows European airlines to fly between Maldives and any EU Member State having a bilateral agreement with Maldives. The agreement entered into force on 15 April 2008.
The agreement removes nationality restrictions in the bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and Maldives and therefore allows any EU airline to operate flights between Maldives and any EU Member State where it is established and where a bilateral agreement with Maldives exist. It acknowledges the existence of the single market for air transport between the EU and Maldives and demonstrates the existence of an external dimension to the single market for air transport. The agreement with Maldives is the sixteenth horizontal aviation agreement to be signed.
Such a “horizontal” agreement does not replace the bilateral agreements in place between the EU Member States and Maldives but brings them in line with EU law, by removing the nationality restrictions contained in bilateral air services agreements. These restrictions have been found incompatible with EU law by the European Court of Justice in the “open skies” judgements of 5 November 2002.
The agreement is considered to be an important step in the aviation relations between the EU and Maldives. Air transport is crucial for the relations between Maldives and the EU, notably for tourism.