Air India to fly through Saudi air space

Michele Moreno
March 8, 2018

The ability to fly the route over Saudi Arabia is expected to cut the flight time by almost two hours, and marks a significant achievement in Israel's campaign to upgrade its ties with the Gulf.

However, following Netanyahu's statement, Air India declared it was still waiting for formal permission.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official diplomatic ties, like much of the Arab world.

Air India said on Wednesday it planned to begin thrice-weekly non-stop flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv this month via Saudi airspace.

Confirming weeks of speculation, the prime minister added that the flight would now take as long as the journey from Tel Aviv to London. The letter states that "Air India will gain a significant advantage over El Al with respect to flights between Israel and India" if the latter is not granted "equal overfly rights".

Netanyahu recently visited India, complimenting Modi's visit to Israel, where the two hailed warming ties between the tiny Jewish state and the world's fastest growing major economy.

Netanyahu told reporters in Washington earlier this week that Air India had reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia to use their airspace.

"We have not received any confirmation from the Saudi authorities", countered Air India spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar on Tuesday.

El Al slammed what it termed a "discriminatory" move by Saudi authorities, in a letter to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) this week.

The national carrier, which has also received approval from the country's aviation regulator to fly to Israel over Saudi Arabia, would operate a 7 hour 5 minute flight between the two cities, its spokesman said.

But the historic animosity has given way to cautious, if often denied, cooperation based on a shared enmity towards Iran.

Other reports by Insurance News

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