After seemingly securing permission to fly into Saudi airspace en route to Israel, Air India has confirmed Tel Aviv flights will begin later this month.
As they don’t recognise the state of Israel, several Arab countries do not allow flights bound for Israel from entering their airspace but it seems the Saudis have relented on this occasion.
That has opened the way for Air India to introduce three weekly flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv starting on March 22.
The seven hour flights will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays using Boeing 787 jets.
By entering Saudi airspace the route saves about two hours’ flying time compared to alternative flight paths, Air India said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the media Air India had received approval but the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation still hasn’t officially endorsed that.
Israel’s flag carrier El Al also flies to Mumbai from Tel Aviv but takes a long route avoiding Saudi airspace.
El Al itself is pushing for approval to enter Saudi airspace and is seeking support from the international aviation community to apply pressure on Saudia Arabia.