Air India to fly over Saudi Arabia for Israel: Netanyahu


Leaders from Israel and the United States lauded praise on the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia under the Crown Prince Mohammod Bin Salman (MBS) and the UAE for their 'commitment to fight terrorism, ' at the AIPAC meeting this week.

There was no immediate confirmation of this from Riyadh or Air India.

Saudi Arabia has committed to allow Air India the use of Saudi airspace for its new routes to and from Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau said on March 5. "We are in the process of launching direct flights to Tel Aviv. and have applied" for the permission, he said.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement during a briefing Monday at Blair House in Washington DC.

"It is for them to decide on our request, but we haven't yet received any communication about it from the regulator". As per reports, the first flight between New Delhi and Tel Aviv is scheduled to take off in a few weeks from now.

The use of Saudi airspace would allow Air India flights to and from Tel Aviv to cut more than two hours off their travel time.

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The Saudi government had banned flights headed to Israel from using its airspace for 70 years.

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

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.

The official said that since this may hurt El Al, which also flies directly to India, talks are underway with the El Al so that they do not get hurt economically.

If Saudi Arabia were to ease its airspace regulations it could be seen as concrete evidence of warming relations with Israel and a broader re-configuring of regional alliances.