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Saudi Arabia to open airspace to Israel-India flights

Saudi Arabia to open airspace to Israel-India flights

A spokesman for the Israel Airports Authority confirmed Air India had received permission to land at Israel's Ben Gurion airport, but could provide no further details.

Currently, El Al is the only airline offering direct flights from Israel to India, with a Tel Aviv-Mumbai route. Air India has signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia over the matter, said Netanyahu.

"The political changes in Saudi Arabia and the desire to consolidate power are the main reason why these relations with Israel were opened", Mahjoob Zweiri, an associate professor in the Gulf Studies Program at Qatar University, had previously said.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Monday, Netanyahu said Air India had reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia to use their airspace.

There has been a lot of confusion over the status whether or not the Saudis have granted permission for Air India to use the kingdom's airspace.

In Feb. 2018, Air India confirmed it had begun plans for three faster weekly flights between Israel and India, although Saudi Arabia's aviation authority was quick to deny reports that its airspace would be used.

There was no immediate confirmation of Monday's development from either Saudi officials or Air India. Netanyahu stressed the planes would not be able to fly over Iran, Iraq and Pakistan - other countries with which Israel has no diplomatic ties, the Times of Israel reported.

This move will reduce flight time by two hours, as earlier Israel bound flights had to take a detour and go round the Red Sea and the Arabian Peninsula, thus increasing fuel consumption. The agreement is going to help the people in India travelling to Tel Aviv economically.

EI AI Israel Airlines now has four weekly flights to Mumbai and it takes seven hours as they fly south toward Ethiopia and then east to India, avoiding the Saudi airspace.

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