It Is Done! Air India Makes History As First India-Israel Flight Through Saudi Airspace Lands In Tel AvivAI Flight 139 welcomed at the Tel Aviv airport. (picture via Twitter)

India-Israel-Saudi Arabia recorded a momentous first in their relationship as the first Air India flight flying over Saudi airspace marked its landing in Israeli capital of Tel Aviv yesterday (22 March) night.

The flight a major diplomatic victory for the three countries as it is the first time a direct flight to Israel was granted permission to fly over Saudi airspace.

Saudi Arabia does not recognise the Israeli state, and hence does not allow flights in and out of Israel to pass over its territory. But an exception was made for Air India which will now be operating the flight thrice every week, very Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

"This is really a historical moment. We are in a new era. I am sure that we will see many more Indian tourists coming to Israel, and Israelis would also come to India in much higher numbers," said Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, speaking to PTI.

Although this is not the first direct flight between the countries, the only other flight takes a much longer route bypassing Saudi airspace and hence takes 2 hours longer for the journey. It is operated by the Israeli national carrier El Al which is also now vying for a similar route to India.

The Air India flight AI 139, for which the national carrier deployed its 256 seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner landed in Tel Aviv at midnight. It was welcomed at the airport on arrival.

The move represents a major shift in Middle-east diplomacy and also underlines India’s growing role in it.

"We have to very cautious. This is really a first step - a very important one. I hope with times we have more and more normal relation with our neighbour in this region. India played a very important bridge (by introducing this flight over Saudi airspace) not only between India and us but also between Israel and other countries in this region," Levin added.

An Appeal...

Dear Reader,

As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.

Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.

We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.

Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.

Become A Patron
Become A Subscriber