Air India gets Saudi nod, says Israel

Frederick Owens
March 9, 2018

Official confirmation from Saudi Arabia and Air India is still awaited.

Air India flights from India to Israel have been given the rights to fly over Saudi Arabia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Monday.

"Air India signed an agreement today to fly to Israel over Saudi Arabia", Netanyahu said.

Interacting with reporters after his meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House, Netanyahu said that Air India has signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to use its airspace.

In the past, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced new flight service connecting Delhi, Mumbai and Tel Aviv when he visited Israel a year ago.

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"It is for the them to decide on our request, but we haven't yet received any communication about it from the regulator".

Many Arab and Islamic nations do not recognise Israel and, therefore, disallow airlines from using their airspace for flight services to the Jewish country. If Air India is allowed to fly over the Saudi territory, it will reduce the flight time between India and Israel to five and a half hours. The agreement is going to help the people in India travelling to Tel Aviv economically. While it is no secret that private jets can fly from Saudi and other Gulf airports to Israel, they could not use the direct route and had to make a stopover in Amman airport first.

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

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that Saudi Arabia has granted permission to India's national carrier Air India to fly through its airspace between Tel Aviv and India. To avoid Saudi Arabia, it has to take a detour over the Red Sea and around the Arabian Peninsula - which lifts the total flight duration to around 8 hours.

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