Netanyahu: Saudi Arabia to allow overflights to Israel

Air India flight

Air India flights from India to Israel have been given permission to fly over Saudi Arabia on its new routes to and from Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Monday.

So far Saudi Arabia has not allowed planes from any country to fly over it and go to Israel.

Israeli prominent airlines El Al now operates an India service that takes a detour over the Red Sea to avoid flying over Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Air India's flight path between Tel Aviv and Mumbai, circumventing Saudi airspace.

Saudi Arabia's response to the decision made by US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital was markedly muted.

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

However, an official confirmation from either Saudi officials or Air India is awaited.

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"It is for them to decide on our request, but we haven't yet received any communication about it from the regulator".

Israel has no diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, which does not allow use of its airspace for flights to and from the Jewish state.

The prime minister, who visited India in January, acknowledged the agreement could hurt El Al.

Netanyahu said that as a result of the short travel of Air India, the Israeli national carrier El Al would be at disadvantage both in terms of cost and travel time.

In an earlier report, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said a direct Air India flight through Saudi airspace will not only be a sign of warming relations between the Middle Eastern nations, but also of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "growing interests and influence" in the region.

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.

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