One major problem that made the job of Indian pilots very difficult was the Saudi closure of its airspace to all flights heading to or emanating from Israel. The prohibition meant Indian flights had to take a long way while travelling to and fro the Jewish state. That is now set to change.
Saudi Arabia has for the first time granted permission to Air India flights to use its airspace when traveling to and from Israel, this according to the Israeli daily Haaretz newspaper.
The decision, which will be implemented in March, means that the flights from India’s capital New Delhi to the Israeli capital Tel Aviv would be shorter by two and a half hours due to the new flight route over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
According to Haaretz, the new route means that the airline would reduce costs and sell cheaper tickets to passengers in order to save customers from spending too much money on flight expenses.
The Saudi government had for the last 70 years banned all flights headed to or coming from Israel in its airspace. Flights had to take a long way and often it was necessary to stop over at Amman International Airport, in the Jordanian capital.
People believe that the Saudi move is a nod to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s growing influence in the region. Modi is expected to visit the occupied west bank on February 10th, 2018.
The Saudi decision to open its airspace for flights heading to or coming from the Jewish state has been warmly received especially in Tel Aviv.
This new trajectory for Saudi-Israeli relationship is been credited to the shakeup of Saudi domestic and foreign policy, spearheaded by the young and ambitious Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
“The political changes in Saudi Arabia and the desire to consolidate power is the main reason why these relations with Israel were opened,” says Mahjoob Zweiri, an associate professor with the Gulf Studies Program department at Qatar University, speaking to the media recently.