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El Al makes first-ever commercial flight through Oman’s airspace

The shorter route will reduce not only flight times, but also ticket prices.

An El Al Dreamliner, July 25, 2021. Photo by Flash90.
An El Al Dreamliner, July 25, 2021. Photo by Flash90.

An El Al Boeing 787 Dreamliner that took off from Tel Aviv for Bangkok on Sunday evening at 8:40 p.m. became the first Israeli commercial flight to cross Omani airspace.

The new route will shorten flight times between Israel and Thailand by three hours, and substantially reduce flight times to several other far eastern countries, according to Ynet. For instance, a flight to India will take five-and-a-half hours instead of eight and a half.

The shorter route is also expected to reduce ticket prices by cutting fuel and personnel costs, though price cuts are not yet reflected in ticket costs.

Other Israeli airlines will also use the new route, including Arkia and cargo carrier Challenge Airlines.

On Feb. 23, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced that Oman had opened its airspace to overflights by Israeli airlines.

The announcement came after months of talks between the Foreign Ministry and authorities in Oman, and after Saudi Arabia last July announced during U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel the opening of its airspace to “all carriers,” paving the way for Israeli commercial airlines to overfly the kingdom.

The Saudi move had hitherto proved largely symbolic, as shortening flight times between Israel and countries such as India and China required a similar authorization from Oman.

“The Far East is not so far away and the skies are no longer the limit. This is a day of great news for Israeli aviation. Israel has, in effect, become the main transit point between Asia and Europe,” said Netanyahu last week.

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