Saudis deny permitting direct Air India flights to Israel

Air India Photo: Shutterstock

An Israeli government source believes the Saudis took fright when the story was picked up by the international media.

Saudi Arabia has denied reports in the Israeli media that it has granted permission for Air India to fly over its airspace on its New Delhi - Tel Aviv route due to be inaugurated on March 20. A spokesman for Saudi’s General Authority of Civil Aviation told "Reuters" that the agency had not granted any permission to Air India.

An Israeli government source believes that the Saudi authorities had given Air India permission after protracted negotiations but then took fright when the story was picked up by the international media. The Saudis then backtracked on their initial decision, fearing that such permission would be interpreted as Saudi Arabia and Israel forming ties. Neighboring Gulf states also probably had something to say on the matter.

Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation did confirm that Air India had submitted a request to fly over Saudi airspace en route to Israel. Flying over Saudi Arabia would cut two hours off the New Delhi - Tel Aviv route.

Air India is due to launch thrice weekly flights between Tel Aviv and New Delhi from March 20. The Israeli government is paying Air India a €750,000 grant to operate the flights.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 7, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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Air India Photo: Shutterstock
Air India Photo: Shutterstock
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