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European Commission - Press release

EU and Sri Lanka ink deal to boost air transport

Brussels, 27 October 2011 - The European Commission and Sri Lanka initialled today in Colombo an aviation agreement which will restore a sound legal basis for developing future aviation relations between Sri Lanka and EU Member States.

The so-called "horizontal agreement" will place several provisions in bilateral air services agreements between 15 EU Member States and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on a sound legal footing by ensuring compliance with EU legislation.

Most importantly, it will remove nationality restrictions in bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and Sri Lanka. It will thereby allow any EU airline to operate flights between Sri Lanka and any EU Member State in which it is established, where a bilateral agreement between the EU Member State concerned and Sri Lanka already exists and traffic rights are available (1).

The agreement represents an important step towards strengthening aviation relations and enhancing the overall cooperation with Sri Lanka, while encouraging traffic between the EU and Sri Lanka. Air transport is crucial for relations between the EU and Sri Lanka, linking people, cultures and businesses.

Today, there are direct flights between Sri Lanka and six EU Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom). In 2010, the total number of air passengers travelling between the EU and Sri Lanka increased by 11% to 380,000 passengers.

Currently, there are 47 such horizontal agreements with partner countries worldwide. More than 900 bilateral air services agreements have already been modified by the joint efforts of the European Commission and EU Member States to replace nationality rules with the principle of EU airline designation.

More information on the EU and international aviation:

Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

1 :

This means that all EU carriers will be able to be designated by any of the 15 Member States with which Sri Lanka has bilateral agreements – although they will only be able to fly if there are unused traffic rights in these agreements. EU carriers, however, will not be able to fly from those Member States with which Sri Lanka does not have bilateral agreements.

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