Air India's flies to Tel Aviv over Saudi airspace
23 March 2018
Air India’s inaugural flight to Tel Aviv from New Delhi on Thursday evening was historic as Saudi Arabia lifted a 70-year-old ban on flights to Israel flying over its airspace.
Air India’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner flew over Saudi Arabia – including near its capital Riyadh – for three hours at a height of 40,000 ft, cutting travel time by over two hours. The flight flew over Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan before landing in Tel Aviv.
Israeli carrier El Al operates flights between Tel Aviv and Mumbai, avoiding Saudi Arabia, instead going over the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The airline is now seeking “equal overfly rights” and has written to the International Air Transport Association, asking for Saudi clearance.
Israeli tourism minister Yariv Levin described the inaugural Air India flight as “really historic,” as overflying Saudi Arabia would not only cut travel time but also airfares. Levin is hopeful that Saudi Arabia would allow El Al to use its airspace.
Air India’s chairman and managing director Pradeep Kharola had earlier said that the initial response for the New Delhi-Tel Aviv flight was good. He said the airline also expects passengers from eastern parts of Asia and Australia to opt for the flight from Delhi. The airline is offering introductory fares starting from Rs35,500.