Recently, a maiden flight of Air India from New Delhi to Tel Aviv flew over Saudi Arabia signaling a new chapter in ties between the kingdom and Israel thus ending a long Saudi policy banning flights emanating from and heading to Israel in its airspace.
Israel’s Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin told journalists that the flights over Saudi Arabia represented a really important and a good historical moment to remember in line with the dictates of a civilized world.
Levin noted that the Saudi decision to allow flights heading to Israel over its airspace will further strengthen and make the relationship between the two countries more cordial. Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow Air India to use its airspace has opened-up a shorter route between India and Israel.
According to reports by Israel’s national carrier EI AI, it will now cover the distance between Tel Aviv and New Delhi in 7.15 hours, 2.10 hours less than the time taken by flights between the two countries. Many Arab and Islamic nations do not recognize Israel, and as such do not allow airlines using their airspace for flights to that country.
Levin hopes that the flights over Saudi airspace will just be the first step towards the normalization of relations with their neighbor in the region. India played a very important role in making the initiative a success.
Speaking upon the arrival of the maiden flight to Tel Aviv, Pavan Kapoor the Indian Ambassador to Israel said a lot of efforts over the last two years had gone into making the historic day a success with a strong vision and support for the initiative from the prime ministers of both countries.
He further added that the initiative would make their relationships stronger in various ways, including political, trade and culture. Pradeep Kharola, the Air India Chairman and Managing Director said the Air India direct flight now has the shortest route connecting New Delhi and Tel Aviv and thus will help unite the people of both countries.
According to airline officials, the flight will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
A symbolic cake cutting ceremony was organized to commemorate the direct flight between Israel and India.