Saudi Grants Airspace Approval For Flights To Israel

An Air India aircraft seen parked on the tarmac at Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi India

Air India denies 'any confirmation' for flights to Israel using Saudi Airspace

For the first time ever, an global airline can use Saudi airspace to fly to Israel.

Israeli airline El Al has sent a letter to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), asking the United Nations body to influence Riyadh to allow it to reroute flights between Tel Aviv and India through Saudi airspace.

The Israeli flag carrier's CEO, Gonen Usishkin, said in a letter to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a United Nations body, it would be discriminatory for the Saudis to allow Air India to enter its airspace and not El Al.

The flight's shorter-than-usual haul is due to the fact that Air India received permission to fly over Saudi airspace.

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

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But until Tuesday, March 7, an Air India spokesperson maintained that "we haven't yet received any communication about it from the regulator".

Israel's flagship airline has appealed to the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization, requesting that its flights to New Delhi be allowed to fly over Saudi Arabia. "We have yet to receive anything from authorities", Air India spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar told i24NEWS on Tuesday. The first flight is scheduled to take off on March 22, and roundtrip ticket prices start at $710.

Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and the permission marks a potential diplomatic shift between the two countries.

The move is seen as a nod to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's influence in the region, who visited the occupied West Bank on February 10.

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