Economy

AI to launch Delhi-Tel Aviv flight via Saudi airspace

AI to launch Delhi-Tel Aviv flight via Saudi airspace

Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel and lifting the airspace ban for El Al would offer further evidence of what appears to be thawing of ties.

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.

Saudi Arabia has no official ties with Israel, with Israel's national carrier El Al now taking a detour over the Red Sea on its India service to avoid flying over Saudi Arabia as well as Iran.

In his January reciprocal visit to India, Netanyahu implied the route could pass over Saudi Arabia, which beyond significantly shortening flight time would be a public indication of a warming of ties with Israel.

"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.

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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.

Usishkin said giving Air India preference would also violate the Chicago Convention, under which countries may not impose restrictions on flying over their territory or discriminate against airlines based on nationality.

He demanded that the ICAO help "procure equal permission for El Al to fly above Saudi Arabia".

"This will be the fastest nonstop between India and Israel by taking the straight route between the two countries", the spokesperson said.

Saudi Arabia's civil aviation authority did not respond to AFP's request for comment.

- Correction: An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect title for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


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