India is a key aviation partner for the European Union, as it constitutes one of the world's fastest growing air transport markets.
A horizontal agreement with India was signed in 2008 and entered into force on 21 February 2018. This agreement allows any EU airline to operate flights between India and any EU Member State where it is established and where a bilateral agreement with India exists and traffic rights are available. It does not replace the bilateral agreements but adapts them to bring them into line with EU law. This is a major step change from the traditional set-up of aviation based on nationality restrictions and complements the EU's internal aviation market on the external side.
Entry into force of the horizontal agreement marks an important step in the EU's aviation relations with India, a dynamic aviation market which offers significant growth potential in the coming years. Indeed, the European Commission's 2015 Aviation Strategy for Europe identified India as a key aviation partner with which the EU should develop its links further, in the first instance by launching a new dialogue.
Market opening and attempts to attract private and foreign capital to the Indian aviation market are seen as part of the measures necessary to develop and modernise India’s aviation sector in order to meet increasing demand and consumer expectations. India has therefore in recent years taken decisive steps towards opening up its aviation market, in particular the 2016 National Civil Aviation Policy, which liberalises traffic rights and eases restrictions on the operation of international air services.
For further information and figures on EU-India aviation relations and EU aviation in general, please consult the Atlas of the Sky