The European Commission and the Labor Government in Australia will soon enter negotiations for an ''open skies'' agreement between Australia and the European Union (EU) with European transport ministers providing their sanction for the move.
As with similar agreements elsewhere the talks hold the potential of delivering greater competition, more flights and lower air fares between the two continents.
The EU is Australia's largest aviation market, with 4.5 million passengers travelling between the two continents in 2007.
An 'open skies' agreement has the potential to dismantle many, if not all, of the existing regulatory limitations on Australian and European airlines operating between the two continents. Customers will be able to access more flights, as well as a wider range of services at competitive rates.
The 'open skies' talks would seek to build on Australia's existing 'Horizontal' air services agreement with the EU. Signed in April 2008, the agreement recognises the existence of a single European market for air transport links to and from Australia.