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Air India's direct flight service to Israel begins today

26 March, 2018, 01:13 | Author: Samuel Sharp
  • Air India to Israel route takes off tomorrow for the first time

The Air India flight will fly over Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to reach Israel, said media reports.

"We will be flying non-stop from New Delhi to Tel Aviv from March 22 over Saudi airspace", Air India spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar told AFP.

In light of the fact that the flight passes over Saudi Arabia, it takes about seven hours - the shortest direct flight time between India and Israel.

'This is a really historic day that follows two years of very, very intensive work, ' Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said in a radio interview, adding that using Saudi airspace cut travel time to India by around two hours and would reduce ticket prices.

Israeli national airline El Al has fired back at Saudi Arabia and even its own government, claiming the €750,000 ($926,000) route grant given to India by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism puts them at a disadvantage.

Air India flight 139 from New Delhi landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday night - and the importance of the event was emphasized by the fact that two ministers came out onto the tarmac to greet it.

Saudi officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Air India has rescheduled some of its flights bound for India today from the USA due to inclement weather in the north eastern part of the country, the airline tweeted. A spokeswoman for El Al confirmed the company intends to bring its complaint to the Supreme Court, but would not give any further details. Though Air India is saddled with huge debt (currently at Rs 51,890 crore), acquiring the airline can help boost the acquirer in terms of foot print, bilteral flying rights, parking slots, etc.

"A new era has begun", he said.

Saudi Arabia - birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest shrines - does not recognize Israel.

The decision is spurring many observers to query the implications of such a move in light of the Saudi Kingdom's new regional aspirations.

The relaxation of the overflight ban, said Spyer, is part of "warming relations behind the scenes" with Israel. It is still unknown whether Israeli airliners can use the airspace of the Gulf state or not. "It's small but significant", he said.



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