Netanyahu: Saudi Gives Air India Overflight Rights for Its Israel Routes

Earlier, the national carrier has sought permission from regulatory body General Authority of Civil Aviation in Riyadh for thrice-a-week flight services between Delhi and Tel Aviv but permission was not granted to the carrier, as reported by Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that Saudi Arabia has granted permission to India's national carrier Air India to fly through its airspace between Tel Aviv and India.

For the first time, Saudi Arabia grants permission for Air India flights headed to Israel to use its airspace.

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Air India has not published when it would begin its flights to Tel Aviv, with media speculating they were due to start later in March, according to AFP.

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

A spokesman for the airline, Air India, denied the claims stressing they had not received any confirmation and had only submitted a request for a flight along that route. Saudi Arabia has not confirmed these contacts, and it maintains that establishing diplomatic ties with Israel would necessitate a withdrawal from Arab lands captured during the 1967 war.

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Saudi Arabia officially does not recognize the existence of Israel, and all planes flying from Israel to India and returning, are banned from flying through Saudi Arabian airspace.

The new Israel-India route was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Israel in July.

Air India said on Tuesday that while it had issued such a request, the regulator had yet to give it a positive answer.

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If Saudi Arabia were to ease its airspace regulations it could be seen as concrete evidence of warming relations with Israel and a broader re-configuring of regional alliances.

  • Ryan Wade