Qatar and the European Union have been negotiating on a “comprehensive air services agreement” for the past many years, and they have now completed their negotiations. This would be an exciting win for Qatar, as once this agreement is signed off, Qatar Airways should be able to fly anywhere in the 28-country EU bloc, and similarly, any European airline should be able to fly to Qatar. It would be the first-ever agreement between the EU and a GCC member state.
Qatar Airways currently operates on the basis of bilateral agreements with each EU country, which means there is a cap in place on the number of passengers which can be carried. Similar limits apply to other ME3 rivals such as Emirates and Etihad Airways. This means Qatar Airways should be able to mount more flights, and scale them up or down depending on demand and supply, and hence get a larger share of the transfer business between Asia/Pacific and Europe.
The draft agreement, which was in the works for more than eight years, was closed on February 5, 2019. It will soon be put to the process of consent from individual nations of the EU bloc. It will take a few months to finalise the agreement.
As part of this Qatar EU Air Services agreement, Qatar and the EU have agreed to articles on fair competition, consumer protection and transparency. Not just that, EU carriers will be relieved from the obligation to hire a local GSA to do business in Qatar.
This agreement benefits Qatar a lot since with additional flights, Qatar Airways will be able to benefit with providing more differentiated network across Europe. On the other hand, even when airlines will fly to Qatar, it helps them get economic benefit from the tourism and business it generates, and a group company of Qatar Airways also owns the airport.
The EU will also start negotiations on a similar agreement with Oman next month, in March. Talks on a similar agreement between the EU and Oman will get underway in March. The EU is also talking to ASEAN and Turkey at the moment.