El Al Appeals to United Nations in Bid to Fly Through Saudi Airspace

El Al Appeals to United Nations in Bid to Fly Through Saudi Airspace

El Al flies to Mumbai four times a week, along a route over Ethiopia and then east to India that, by avoiding Saudi Arabia, has a journey time of seven hours rather than five.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have never had official diplomatic relations, and interactions between their governments have taken place only through back channels. Anger at the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord has chipped away at their historic animosity, and it appears Israel picked a side in the swelling feud between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia over the former's influence in Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain.

Air India first announced its plan to operate direct flights to Tel Aviv over Saudi territory in February, prompting Israel's national carrier El Al to appeal to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for assistance in obtaining similar permission from Saudi Arabia.

Israel's national carrier El Al now operates an India service that takes a detour over the Red Sea to avoid flying over Saudi Arabia and Iran.

However, following Netanyahu's statement, Air India declared it was still waiting for formal permission.

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Flying over Saudi Arabia significantly shortens the route's flight time.

"This will be the fastest nonstop between India and Israel by taking the straight route between the two countries", the spokesperson said.

"I am requesting that the ICAO, which has the power to enforce the provisions of the Chicago Convention, take action ...to procure equal permission for El Al to fly above Saudi Arabia", Usishkin said.

- Correction: An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect title for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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