Saudi Arabia Softens Air Travel Policy, Allows Flight Service to Israel

In a historic first Air India flies to Israel via Saudi airspace

In a historic first Air India flies to Israel via Saudi airspace

On hand to greet the historic flight was Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz and Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin.

The flight came 10 months after U.S. President Donald Trump flew directly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv aboard Air Force One in a demonstration of intent to resolve the 70-year-old conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel and the usage of its airspace for the route could reflect a thawing of ties between Israel and the Gulf Arab state, both close USA allies.

Significantly, Saudi Arabia has permitted the airline to use its airspace, enabling it to take a shorter route, covering the distance in 7.25 hours as compared to the only other airline that flies between the two countries - Israel's national carrier El Al.

Market was buzzing with the news of a possible tie-up between domestic budget carrier Indigo and Qatar Airways to buy debt-laden Indian national airlines Air-India. The state-run carrier will be operating its 256-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner on this route.

"Saudi Arabia's airspace was never used for landing into Israel. An internal inquiry has been set up to investigate the allegations in the complaint", the Air India Spokesperson said.

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The junior colleague did not retaliate but later filed a complaint with Air India's inflight service department over the incident, the source said. Our next important step in this process will be the establishment of the "rails of peace" project, which will connect Haifa port with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states.

"I think that what this shows is even in the absence of that you can have small gestures that are of real meaning", Spyer, director of Israel's Rubin Centre for Research in International Affairs, told AFP.

Air India stewardesses (illustration).

"That's what I think that this Saudi decision to allow the overflights consists of".

Saudi officials could not be immediately reached for comment. World number 2 shuttler, Sindhu, had said that she had experienced an "unsatisfactory" treatment en route her flight to Mumbai. Tata-Singapore Airlines, which operate Vistara airlines are also open to gaining access to the assets of Air India.

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