Civil Aviation
EU-Qatar Open Skies Agreement: FNAM calls for transparency
EU-Qatar Open Skies Agreement: FNAM calls for transparency
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| HEGUY Jean-Baptiste | Source : Air&Cosmos 466 mots

EU-Qatar Open Skies Agreement: FNAM calls for transparency

In light of the suspicions of corruption involving Qatar in the European Parliament, the FNAM considers it urgent to study how the signing process was conducted in 2021.

In March 2019, the terms of an air agreement between the European Union and Qatar had been agreed between the European Commission and Qatar on the basis of a mandate given by the member states and aimed in particular at ensuring the implementation of fair competition between European carriers and the national airline of Qatar. The signing and entry into force of this agreement had been, on the institutional level, postponed in time due in particular to issues related to Brexit and the particular situation of Gibraltar. 

A draft agreement in 2019

The FNAM (National Federation of Aviation and its Trades), as well as a number of European carriers and labor organizations, have regularly alerted that the provisions of the draft agreement, unsigned in 2019, needed to be reviewed in light of the major changes in circumstances that have occurred, and this in order to take into account the state of the airline sector after the COVID crisis, the new environmental ambitions displayed by the European Union and above all, the total lack of information on the subsidies paid to the benefit of Qatar Airways.

Despite these significant changes of circumstance, the European institutions have, in June 2021 and in the midst of the COVID crisis, taken the decision to sign and provisionally apply the aviation agreement between the European Union and Qatar without attempting in any way to renegotiate its terms.

Airline unions up in arms against the EU-Qatar deal

At the time, the unions of pilots (SNPL, Alter, Spaf), ground staff (FO, CGT, CFDT, CFE-CGC, Unsa, CFTC) and cabin crew (UNPNC, Unac, SNPNC and SNGAF) had sent a letter to the French deputies in which they denounced an agreement that was "completely unbalanced". "It is an unbalanced agreement, very largely favorable to Qatari interests. The market opportunities in Qatar are much lower than those offered by the French market. There is no comparison. And if we have to push this comparison to the whole of Europe, the argument of imbalance is indisputable!", had declared the unions in their letter to the deputies. 

An audit of the signing process needed according to FNAM

Given recent reports of suspected corruption involving Qatar, the FNAM considers it urgently incumbent upon the European institutions to verify under what conditions the signing process for the agreement was conducted in 2021 as many voices were raised in the airline industry calling for an adaptation of the agreement to the new realities of the sector.

The FNAM stresses that the agreement with Qatar applies today only provisionally and remains subject to an approval by the European Parliament and a ratification process in the Member States which will have to take into account the circumstances surrounding the negotiation but also the limited ambitions of the text on aspects including environmental and social.

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