Air India route gets Saudi overflight okay, Israeli PM says

Air India route gets Saudi overflight okay, Israeli PM says

If the new route is confirmed, flying through Saudi Arabia will shorten the flights from New Delhi to Tel Aviv by two and a half hours.

Air India also flies from Tel Aviv to Bangkok.

Air India said on Tuesday that while it had issued such a request, the regulator had yet to give it a positive answer.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Monday, Netanyahu said Air India had reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia to use their airspace.

Such an agreement would reduce India-Israel flight time by 2hrs.

In January, Israeli daily Haaretz said that Saudi authorities had allowed the Indian flag carrier to hold direct flights to Israel through Saudi airspace for the first time.

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"We have applied for the route with [India's] directorate general of civil aviation", a spokesman told the AFP news agency.

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. Air India had earlier announced to start direct flight between Delhi and Tel Aviv.

Leaders from Israel and the United States lauded praise on the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia under the Crown Prince Mohammod Bin Salman (MBS) and the UAE for their 'commitment to fight terrorism, ' at the AIPAC meeting this week.

Many Arab and Islamic nations do not recognise Israel and, therefore, disallow airlines from using their airspace for flight services to the Jewish country.

Netanyahu said Saudi Arabia had not granted overfly permission to Israeli national carrier El Al, which operates four weekly flights to Mumbai.

If Saudi Arabia were to ease its airspace regulations it could be seen as concrete evidence of warming relations with Israel and a broader re-configuring of regional alliances.

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