Saudi Arabia to open airspace to Israel-India flights
Saudi Arabia to open airspace to Israel-India flights
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08 March, 2018, 02:18
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.
"Air India signed an agreement today to fly to Israel over Saudi Arabia", Netanyahu was quoted as saying by the Times of Israel.
For the first time, Saudi Arabia grants permission for Air India flights headed to Israel to use its airspace. After being able to fly over Saudi airspace to fly to Israel would also allow the national carrier to cut down their costs.
Reportedly, the announcement was made during Netanyahu's interaction with Israeli reporters after he met US President Donald Trump at Blair House in Washington DC.
For 70 years, Saudi airspace has remained closed to Israeli aircraft and to all flights bound for the self-proclaimed Jewish state. Official confirmation from Saudi Arabia and Air India is still awaited.
Air India has been now allowed to fly over Saudi Arabia on its new route from New Delhi to Tel Aviv. "Since their flights will now take longer and be more expensive, as the planes consume more fuel because they fly a longer, more circuitous route, he is in talks with the national carrier to ensure that it does not get hurt economically".
Meanwhile, an Air India spokesman told the Nikkei Asian Review on Tuesday that the airline "has not received any communication from the [Indian] regulator DGCA [Directorate General of Civil Aviation]" regarding the Saudi overflight approval.
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. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel are U.S. allies with a shared concern over Iranian influence in the region.
Air India has not published when it will begin its flights to Tel Aviv, with media speculating they are due to start later in March.
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