Saudi Arabia opens airspace to Israel for first time ever

Saudi Arabia opens airspace to Israel for first time ever

[Ed. – Small steps]

Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel with the inauguration of an Air India route between New Delhi and Tel Aviv.

Flight 139 landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport after a seven-and-a-half hour journey, marking a diplomatic shift for Riyadh that Israel says was fuelled by shared concern over Iranian influence in the region.

“This is a really historic day that follows two years of very, very intensive work,” Israeli tourism minister Yariv Levin said, adding that using Saudi airspace cut travel time to India by around two hours and would reduce ticket prices.

Saudi Arabia – birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest shrines – does not recognise Israel.

Riyadh has not formally confirmed granting the Air India plane overflight rights. While the move ended a 70-year-old ban on planes flying to or from Israel through Saudi airspace, there is no indication that it will be applied for any Israeli airline.

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