Air India confirms Israel flights over Saudi airspace set for March 22

Gladys Abbott
March 8, 2018

Flying through Saudi airspace will cut the Delhi-Tel Aviv journey time by about two hours, an Air India spokesman said.

India's state-run carrier Wednesday confirmed the launch of flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv later this month which are expected to use Saudi airspace.

India's national carrier Air India on Wednesday began selling direct five-hour flights between Delhi and Israel's Ben-Gurion worldwide airport. Anger at the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord has chipped away at their historic animosity, and it appears Israel picked a side in the swelling feud between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia over the former's influence in Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain.

"The Times of India" reports that Air India will use Boeing 787 Dreamliners for the route with 18 seats in business class and 238 seats in economy class.

Netanyahu said that Saudi Arabia has not granted overfly permission to Israeli national carrier El Al, which operates four weekly flights to Mumbai.

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

Air India meanwhile said it was still waiting for an answer on its request.

The new Israel-India route was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Israel in July.

While Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have formal relations, in recent years there have been numerous reports of more clandestine relations between the two Middle Eastern powers, especially as both countries see Iran as the primary threat in the region.

"We have applied for the route with (India's) directorate general of civil aviation", a spokesman told AFP.

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