Saudi Arabia to open airspace to Israel-India flights

Saudi Arabia to open airspace to Israel-India flights

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia has granted Air India's plea to fly over its territory.

Air India has three flights per week to Tel Aviv.

But an Air India spokesman denied the Prime Minister's comments several hours later, stressing they had not received any confirmation and had only submitted a request for a flight along that route.

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The flight from India to Tel Aviv, is scheduled to commence soon, given the hostile relations in the past between Saudi Arabia and Israel, the former debarred use of its airspace to all commercial flights bound for Israel.

The new route, Haaretz said, means that the airline would reduce fuel costs and sell cheaper tickets to passengers.

The use of Saudi airspace would allow Air India flights to and from Tel Aviv to cut more than two hours off their travel time. The airline also flies the route between Tel Aviv and Bangkok.

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"When Air India begins direct flights from New Delhi to Tel Aviv in the coming weeks, it will take about as long to fly to the Indian capital as it now takes to fly to London, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday", The Jerusalem Post said, quoting Netanyahu in its report datelined Washington.

The move is seen as a nod to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's influence in the region, who visited the occupied West Bank on February 10.

Netanyahu had said on Monday that 'Air India signed an agreement today to fly to Israel over Saudi Arabia, ' during a briefing at the Blair House in Washington, DC, where Netanyahu is staying through his attendance at the annual AIPAC conference. Last year, he became the first Indian premier to go to Israel on an official state visit.

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This has been credited to the shakeup of Saudi domestic and foreign policy, spearheaded by the young and ambitious Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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