The process of uniting the Ukrainian aviation space with the EU has been going on since the times of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, since 1999.
In December 2006, the EU Council authorized the European Commission to begin negotiations with Ukraine on a joint aviation space.
In October 2013, the text of the agreement was agreed upon, but the signing was blocked due to the conflict between Great Britain and Spain over the territorial status of Gibraltar and the airport in it. The fact is that Madrid blocked the agreement since Kyiv recognized the airport as British.
However, after the final withdrawal of Great Britain from the EU, the barriers to signing the agreement disappeared. In June 2021, the EU Council agreed to sign an agreement with Ukraine, as well as Armenia, Tunisia, and Qatar.
What does the "open skies" agreement mean?
According to Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration of Ukraine, this agreement will increase competition in Ukraine, which will reduce prices for flights within the country.
In addition, the agreement will provide more opportunities for the use of visa-free travel.
In an interview with Radio Liberty, she noted that, first of all, the agreement will increase the number of companies on the Ukrainian air transportation market, which means increased competition, lower prices, and an increase in the number of flights.
The arrival of European airlines on the market will increase the number of flights from other cities of Ukraine, and not just from Kyiv.
As Evropeyska Pravda outlet clarifies, among other things, the agreement cancels the current bilateral agreements, which secure some lucrative routes for monopolists.
Another important change is the right of any airline to provide "handling" at the airport (that is, ground handling), where this company flies. That is, in this case, we are talking about demonopolization.
As a result, this can reduce the cost of this part of the ticket or give a chance for the introduction of additional services.
Another example of improvements is the introduction in Ukraine of Regulation No. 261/2004, thanks to which serious protection of passengers should be organized against arbitrary flight cancellations and delays.
Those who fly frequently with European carriers know that they have strong protection for passengers against arbitrary flight cancellations and delays, regardless of the ticket price. In particular, we are talking, for example, about the obligations of the carrier to provide the passenger with food and a hotel if the flight cannot take off on time.
And if this happens through the fault of the airline, the passenger must be paid financial compensation. And so on.
When will the agreement be fully operational?
More precisely, we will even paraphrase. The contract was signed. What's next?
The journalists predict that the use of "open skies" in the most optimistic version may begin on November 1, but much more realistically - in one of the following months, for example, from December 1.
In any case, starting from the summer navigation season of 2022, airlines will have the opportunity to take advantage of the first benefits of the signed agreement.
And then, with the current agreement, it will be ratified in 29 parliaments - the Verkhovna Rada, the European Parliament and 27 EU member states.