At the EU-India Aviation Summit in New Delhi, ACI Asia-Pacific and ACI Europe jointly called on India and the European Union to establish a comprehensive aviation agreement to liberalize traffic rights and boost regulatory alignment, including the acceleration of decarbonization policies between the two regions.
The EU-India Aviation Summit was jointly organized by the European Commission and the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation with a focus on improving connectivity, promoting environmental sustainability, tackling infrastructure bottlenecks, fostering innovation and addressing regulatory issues.
India’s aviation sector has been one of the fastest growing in the world, with ACI’s long-term forecast indicating that by 2041 the sector should grow by 339% over 2022, reaching 1.1 billion passengers flown. This will result in fast-increasing demand on EU-India routes. It is therefore essential for India and the EU to work on a comprehensive aviation agreement to enable the development of air connectivity by removing current traffic rights limitations and red tape. Such a comprehensive aviation agreement is expected to support trade and tourism with benefits for consumers and the economy on both sides.
ACI Asia-Pacific and ACI Europe also emphasized the need to increase cooperation and seek policy and regulatory alignment in areas such as environment, safety and security, facilitation and competition. In particular, the organizations called for a close alignment between the EU and India on how to fast-track the implementation of ICAO’s long-term aspirational goal of net zero CO2 emissions. They stated that this must be facilitated through a reinforced aviation partnership.
The partners also highlighted the need for increased cooperation in areas such as safety, security, facilitation and consumer protection, including the establishment of a roadmap towards a one-stop security (OSS) regime between the EU and India. OSS refers to the removal of duplicated security screening of passengers and baggage at the transfer airport, endorsed by ICAO and successfully applied by Europe and several other countries worldwide. Additionally, immigration preclearance between India and the EU, similar to the process adopted by the US in airports such as Abu Dhabi, is expected to be key to facilitating ease of travel.
Finally, the organizations called for improved cooperation between India and the EU that reduces red tape in terms of visa issuance, which is particularly cumbersome for Indian citizens. A simplification of the process, including the speedy delivery of consular and visa services, is expected to facilitate the movement of people between India and the EU and enhance business relations and tourism – particularly considering the growing disposable income of Indian citizens which is set to increase the propensity to fly.
Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said, “Liberal aviation agreements have become a staple of successful economic development strategies – with the connectivity they unleash being key to attract inward investment, achieve economic diversification and support livelihoods. All this shows there is so much more at stake than aviation in what we discuss today in New Delhi. Undoubtedly, a comprehensive aviation agreement between the EU and India would be a game-changer on many levels. While the benefits would primarily accrue to consumers and communities on both sides, it would also enable closer cooperation and progress in delivering on the industry’s ambitious climate goals. We, therefore, urge both the EU and India to move forward and start negotiations as soon as possible.”
Stefano Baronci, director general of ACI Asia-Pacific, said, “The economic and social implications of stronger cooperation between the EU and India are clear to all, given the strong perspective to growth of these two partners. Consumers in India would be the first beneficiary of closer cooperation, with fewer hurdles and more choices to fly, more competitive prices and improved service and more respect for the environment. All this is subject to ensuring a strong commitment by both parties to further liberalize traffic rights, simplify the VISA issuance to fly to the Schengen area, introduce a one-stop security regime to unleash the potential of Indian airports as international hubs, and secure public and private investment for the decarbonization of the sector.”
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