(JNS.org) Several Muslim countries are reportedly delaying plans by Air India to launch a New Delhi to Tel Aviv direct flight ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Israel in July.
According to a report in The Hindu, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan have all declined permission for Air India to overfly their air space en route to Israel.
Airline officials generally seek overflight permission from countries in order to ensure a smooth hand-off from air traffic controllers. Yet Israel does not have relations with most countries in the Muslim world, with some nations—like Iran—calling for the Jewish state’s destruction.
Air India examined the possibility of operating its Tel Aviv service by flying over Europe, but the route was deemed too circuitous and costly, the report added.
In March, Air India announced plans to launch three weekly direct flights between Tel Aviv and New Delhi. The route is expected to serve the increasing number of Indian tourists visiting Israel and vice versa, as a result of the countries’ increasingly strong ties. Direct flights between Tel Aviv and New Delhi are currently only available on Israel’s flagship airline, El Al.