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EU aviation sector ‘frustrated’ with Gibraltar stalemate

The European air transport sector has voiced deep frustration at the continued deadlock over Gibraltar that is blocking progress on key EU aviation agreements.

Despite mounting pressure, Spain continues to seek Gibraltar’s exclusion from the aviation packages, ignoring its commitment under the 2006 Cordoba agreement to include the Rock.

Industry associations have now pressed for the Dutch EU presidency to push the issue to the top of the agenda for next week’s meeting of EU transport ministers.

But officials and MEPs alike conceded this week that there is little prospect of any progress until after the UK’s referendum on EU membership and the Spanish general election.

The Partido Popular government in Madrid argues that Gibraltar airport is situated on a disputed isthmus and must be left out of the EU’s aviation agreements.

But the UK is adamant that the Rock must be included, a position that was accepted by Spain’s previous PSOE administration under the trilateral process.

The industry’s frustration was made clear during a meeting in Brussels this week between Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and a delegation of aviation representatives including the Deputy Director General of the Airport Council International, Morgan Foulkes; the Head of Aviation Security at Airport Council International, David Ryder; and the Chief Executive of the Association of European Airlines, Athar Hussain Khan.

At the meeting, which was held at a boardroom in Gibraltar House in Brussels, the industry leaders made it clear they were “fed up” of the delays that were disrupting efforts to improve air traffic management, passenger rights and overall aviation efficiency.

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