Air India Flight to Israel may overfly Saudi Arabia

Last month, I wrote about a new Air India flight to Israel, that seems to be ready to fly this month onwards. Air India has planned to launch flights to Israel from March 20, 2018, with the following schedule:

AI139 DEL1800 – 2145TLV 788 247
AI140 TLV2315 – 1000(+1)DEL 788 247

The key issue with flights between India and Israel is the circuitous route that is taken to fly to Israel, given that Saudi Arabia does not allow Israeli airline, El Al, to use their airspace. Hence, the El Al 4 times a week flight to Mumbai ends up taking over 7 hours to fly rather than the usual 5.5 hours it should take. Take a look below at this screenshot via FlightRadar24:

El Al Saudi Arabia

In Air India’s case, it seems a special dispensation was made by Saudi Arabia to allow Air India to fly to Israel, using the Saudi airspace. However, right after the news of the flight was announced,  Saudi Arabia’s Civil Aviation regulator denied such an agreement was ever made.

Now, it seems such a deal is back on the table. Reuters is reporting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Saudi Arabia had granted Air India permission to fly over its territory on its new routes to and from Tel Aviv. However, there was no immediate confirmation from either Saudi officials or Air India.

Air India Boeing 787

It is important to know that Israel looks at India as a great source for tourism. So, indeed, if this flight will be able to take off, Air India will get about 750,000 Euros from Israel to foot the initial bills on this flight.

The flight has still not been loaded in the GDS or Air India’s own reservation for booking yet. I am not worried about that, however, given in the past as well, Air India has just made those announcements sometimes 4 days before the first flight. But this may also indicate that the deal is not in the bag yet and hence Air India is not formally announcing the flight.

What do you make out of the current suspense on Air India’s flight to Tel Aviv?

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