Air India makes history – First flight to Israel via Saudi airspace

In a major boost to bilateral ties between India and Israel, the national carrier Air India became the first flight to reach Israel’s Tel Aviv in seven hours, by flying over the Saudi Arabian airspace. Air India, which flew over Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan reached Israel within seven hours, reducing travel time by nearly two hours.

The other flight that links the two countries is Israel’s national carrier El Al which takes a circuitous route by flying over the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and then entering India by bypassing countries which fall on its direct flight paths such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

India’s national carrier will operate a 256 seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the Delhi-Tel Aviv airport and will operate on a tri-weekly basis. The move, which is being hailed as a diplomatic victory, has been welcomed by representatives of both countries as a positive step which would facilitate a new beginning between India and Israel.

“This is a historical moment. We are in a new era and I am confident that we will have many more tourists coming to Israel and Israelis will also visit India in higher numbers,” said Yariv Lenin, Israel’s tourism minister while speaking to the press. He further added that the Air India flight will facilitate direct people to people access and boost between bilateral ties between the two nations.

The flight path was proposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyuhu during his state trip to India.”Significant efforts have gone in to ensure that the air route becomes a reality through the dynamic and inspiring vision of our Prime Ministers. We are confident that the airline will not only facilitate engagement with tourists but also generate immense goodwill and an exchange of ideas in the fields of political, trade and culture spheres,” said Pawan Kapoor, India’s ambassador to Israel.

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