Saudi Arabia has granted permission to Air India to use its airspace for flights between Delhi and Tel Aviv as per reports in an Israeli daily. However, confirmations about the same could not be obtained from Air India or the ministry of civil aviation.
A spokesperson from Air India said that the national carrier is anticipating permission for thrice-a-week flight services between Delhi and Tel Aviv from March from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. However, in another media report, the spokesperson for Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation denied granting any permission to Air India.
As of now, flights between Tel Aviv and Mumbai take a seven-hour route and fly over the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and then enter India and avoid countries that are on the direct flight path such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Another Air India official said the Saudi Arabia’s approval will reduce the flight duration by two and a half hours and save fuel costs. It will also allow the airline to take a shorter route by flying over Ahmedabad, Muscat and Saudi Arabia.
Due to route overflying issues, Air India had earlier too considered the possibility of operating flights from directly Mumbai to Tel Aviv.
Many Arab and Islamic nations do not allow airlines to use their airspace for flights to Israel since they do not recognize the country.
Israel’s tourism ministry has earlier announced a one-time grant of 750,000 euros to Air India for flight operations.