International civil aviation


Civil aviation is by its very nature international. Today the Federal Republic of Germany is one of the world’s leading civil aviation nations. The legal framework is provided by bilateral air transport agreements and a multilateral convention.

A Boeing 747 airplane is starting for a night flight.
A Boeing 747 airplane is starting for a night flight. © dpa/picture-alliance
International framework

International civil aviation plays a large role in fostering exchange and understanding between the countries and peoples of the world. As far back as 1944, the international community agreed in the Chicago Convention on fundamental rights and obligations, and founded the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is based in Montreal. The strategic objectives of this 191‑member UN specialised agency are security and environmental protection and the sustainable development of air transport. The ICAO Assembly meets every three years, with the next session due to take place in autumn 2016. The multilateral convention developed by the ICAO is complemented by a network of bilateral air transport agreements. The Federal Republic of Germany has been a member of the ICAO since 1956 and is now one of the world’s leading civil aviation nations. Our well over 100 bilateral air transport agreements require constant further development, as well as adaptation to bring them into line with EU community law. To this end, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is responsible for conducting bilateral consultations or negotiations with the support of the Federal Foreign Office.

Germany well positioned

The aviation sector is continuing to consolidate. Accounting for a constantly growing share of global valued‑added, civil aviation is one of the most important sectors of the world economy. A modern, efficient aviation sector is crucial for the German economy. International hubs such as Frankfurt and Munich airports are adapting their capacity to the increased demand. The new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport is being built in Berlin. Other airports also play an important role in passenger and freight transport. German airlines regularly invest in new aircraft and serve large route networks.

The role of the European Union

All restrictions have been lifted within the European Union – cabotage, that is, the provision of transport services within a country by a foreign transport company, has been allowed in the European Union since 1997. The EU‑wide “black list” of unsafe foreign airlines reduces safety risks. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) was established to lay down rules and requirements on civil aviation safety and sustainable environmental protection. The Single European Sky helps to reduce air‑travel delays.

The EU’s air transport agreements with third countries

Following a case‑by‑case review by the EU/European Commission, the EU member states transferred responsibility for negotiating comprehensive air transport agreements with certain countries outside the EU. Some of these air transport agreements have been signed at European level. Negotiations with other third countries are ongoing.

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