Published: Thu, March 08, 2018
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

Air India to launch Tel Aviv-Delhi route over Saudi March 22

Air India to launch Tel Aviv-Delhi route over Saudi March 22

"The route time given by the DGCA to us is seven hours and five minutes, and looking at that schedule we believe it must be flying over the Saudi airspace", the spokesman said.

The official announcement from Air India comes days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters during his visit to the USA that Saudi Arabia had given permission to the Indian carrier for flying over its territory on its route from New Delhi to Tel Aviv.

Air India will launch a flight from Delhi to Israel's Tel Aviv nonstop from March 22.

Confirming weeks of speculation, the prime minister added that the flight would now take as long as the journey from Tel Aviv to London.

Speaking to reporters accompanying him in Washington on Monday, Netanyahu said that Air India had reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia to use their airspace. Typically, even government aircraft belonging to allies were forced to make a stopover elsewhere.

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Israel's national carrier El Al now operates an India service that takes a detour over the Red Sea to avoid flying over Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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

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

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

Israel, Saudi Arabia and India are parties to the convention.

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