(February 7, 2018 / Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS) Saudi Arabia has granted a request by Air India to fly through Saudi airspace en route to Israel, the i24 News website reported Wednesday.
According to the report, the route will service direct flights between Delhi and Tel Aviv. This is the first time the Saudis are allowing flights to Israel to use their airspace.
The new route is expected to cut the flight time between India and Israel from nearly nine hours down to six hours, reducing the airline’s fuel costs.
However, a spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation later said that the agency did not give permission for Air India to use its airspace for flights to Israel. The report surfaced as Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj was visiting Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
Earlier last year, Air India announced plans to launch direct flights between Tel Aviv and New Delhi to serve the increasing number of Indian tourists visiting Israel as well as Israelis traveling to India as part of growing ties. In recent days, it has been reported that the Israeli Tourism Ministry has offered Air India a $750,000 grant as an incentive to invest in the new route.