Monday, February 27, 2012
Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has announced that Israel won't sign an Open Skies agreement with the European Union without first assessing the probably impact on Israeli carriers. See Zohar Blumenkrantz, Israel Postpones 'Open Skies' Deal with EU, Citing Local Airline Companies' Interests, Haaretz, Feb. 27, 2012 (available here). Katz has received pressure from Israel's airlines, El Al, Arkia and Israir, as well as the Histadrut, Israel's leading trade union, and as a result will reportedly insist that the final terms of the agreement include protections for the Israeli air transport industry. See Gavriel Queenann, Katz Bows to the Histadrut Over 'Open Skies', Israel National News, Feb. 27, 2012 (available here). It is unclear what is meant by “protections” and whether it is even possible to write a true Open Skies agreement that insulates Israeli carriers from competition. We'll likely know more after the next round of talks take place March 20, but this is a worrisome development for Open Skies proponents.