The agreement on Common Aviation Area between Ukraine and the European Union is possibly in legal force already. Aron Mayberg, a co-owner of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) and the chairman of the airline’s supervisory board, expressed this opinion in an interview with the LigaBusinessInform publication, citing the provisions of a signed protocol.
According to him, negotiations on the so-called "open skies" agreement began in 2007 and culminated in the signing of a protocol on initialing the agreement in 2013. After that, all European countries except Spain and the United Kingdom confirmed the authority to sign the agreement. The dispute between London and Madrid over the status of Gibraltar has prevented implementation of the Common Aviation Area agreement, but the protocol will possibly liberalize air links anyway.
"The same protocol stipulates that the parties can remove all restrictions on the third and fourth freedoms from summer 2015. This essentially allows European and Ukrainian airlines to fly to each other freely without restrictions. Thus, the Gibraltar problem exists but, on the on the other hand, there is a clause in the protocol that can probably be interpreted in a way that allows the restrictions on flights to be lifted now. In other words, the issue lies in the political and legal plane and it needs to be resolved at the levels of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the government, but not the State Aviation Service," said Mayberg.
"If there is a task to open the skies in reality and not nominally, it is necessary to understand whether the signed protocol has entered into legal force. If so, then we can already insist during negotiations that there should be no restrictions between the European Union and Ukraine. Could it be that what we are trying to achieve has already been achieved partly? It is necessary to obtain a legal opinion on this," he added.
He also noted that the text of the Common Aviation Area agreement states that the document "does not affect the positions of the parties to the dispute - the United Kingdom and Spain - in any way."
The Common Aviation Area agreement liberalizes the Ukrainian transport market, allowing European companies to operate in Ukraine without restrictions and Ukrainian companies to operate in Europe without restrictions. Among others, European low-cost airlines will be able to enter Ukraine. Currently, to enter new air routes, carriers must apply to aviation authorities for permission.
In June, Infrastructure Minister Andrii Pyvovarskyi expressed confidence that Ukraine would sign the Common Aviation Area agreement with the European Union before the end of 2015. The text of the final declaration of the Eastern Partnership summit that took place in Riga also stated a similar timeframe.