In A Historic First, Saudi Arabia To Allow Direct Flights Between India And Israel Over Its Airspace

In A Historic First, Saudi Arabia To Allow Direct Flights Between India And Israel Over Its AirspaceIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu(L) with PM Narendra Modi. (Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

In a sign of the changing geopolitical equations in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia - for the first time - has allowed direct flight to Israel over it’s territory. And the first airline to get this permission is Air India, which will operate flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv, Hareetz has reported.

The only other times aircrafts have flown directly from Saudi Arabia to Israel have been Air Force One flights carrying United States Presidents George Bush and Donald Trump.

Currently, flights between Israel and other nations have to take routes avoiding Saudi airspace as it does not recognise Israel. The only flight between Tel Aviv and Mumbai goes over the red sea and takes 8 hours to reach India. This time will be cut down by two and a half hours following the approval by Saudi Arabia.

Discussions for the flight were intensified following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India last month. Air India had earlier asked Israel’s airport authority for departing flight slots from 20 March.

The flight comes both as an affirmation of the changing relationship between Israeli and Saudi leadership as well as increasing Indian influence in the region. PM Modi has been trying to expand India’s relationship with the Middle Eastern countries, which had earlier also led to Saudi Arabia significantly increase India’s Hajj quota too.