Saudi to open airspace to India-Israel flights, says Netanyahu

Saudi to open airspace to India-Israel flights, says Netanyahu

Official confirmation from Saudi Arabia and Air India is still awaited.

While no formal ties exist between Israel and Saudi Arabia, it has been revealed by Israeli officials over the last several months that there have been covert contacts between the two countries.

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. "We are in the process of launching direct flights to Tel Aviv. and have applied" for the permission, he said. Air India has signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia over the matter, said Netanyahu.

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.

Saudi Arabia officially does not recognize the existence of Israel, and all planes flying from Israel to India and returning, are banned from flying through Saudi Arabian airspace.

The new Israel-India route was first announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Israel in July.

More news: Trump slumps on Forbes billionaires list

In the past, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced new flight service connecting Delhi, Mumbai and Tel Aviv when he visited Israel a year ago.

India's national carrier Air India is scheduled to begin its direct flight between New Delhi and Tel Aviv soon.

El Al Israel Airlines, which flies four weekly flights to Mumbai, has also expressed an interest in flying over Saudi airspace in order to reduce flight time, Arutz Sheva reported.

Netanyahu, who visited India in January, acknowledged the agreement could hurt El Al.

But the decision also signifies warmer ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have been seen as having increasingly covert relations over the a year ago.

Related Articles