Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90
El Al Boeing 787 Dreamliner after landing at Ben Gurion International Airport, August 23, 2017.

The European Parliament voted 437 to 102 on Wednesday night to ratify the “Open Skies” agreement with Israel, which remove all barriers for flights between Israel and Europe and has led to a substantial decrease in airfares, alongside a significant increase in the number of tourists visiting Israel.

It has also provided opportunities for Israeli tourists to fly to an increased variety of European destinations. The final ratification guarantees the continuation of competition in the aviation sector and low airfares.

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The Foreign Ministry noted that the confirmation by the EU Parliament was made possible by ongoing and intensive diplomatic work, led by Israel’s Ambassador to the EU Ronny Leshno–Yaar, along with other Israeli ambassadors based in Europe.

The vote took place after a seven-year process, during which each individual state’s parliament voted in favor of ratifying the agreement. The agreement took effect in 2013.

“This is a diplomatic achievement with significant economic impact on the State of Israel,” the Foreign Ministry stated Thursday.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said that “the final ratification of this agreement is an important expression of the relationship Israel has with the EU, particularly regarding trade, Research and Development and tourism.”

The ratification of the agreement will “contribute significantly to the rehabilitation of Israel’s tourism and aviation sectors” harmed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, he said. “This is especially important now as Israel faces an economic crisis, caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, and looks to restart flights and tourism.”

In June 2013, then-Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Civil Aviation Authority Director Giora Rom the Open Skies agreement with the European Union.

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