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Saudi allows Air India overflights to Israel: Netanyahu

Saudi allows Air India overflights to Israel: Netanyahu

Such a permission by Saudi Arabia would reduce the air travel time from New Delhi to Tel Aviv by Air India from about eight hours to five and a half hours, Netanyahu said.

"When Air India begins direct flights from New Delhi to Tel Aviv in the coming weeks, it will take about as long to fly to the Indian capital as it now takes to fly to London, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday", The Jerusalem Post said, quoting Netanyahu in its report datelined Washington.

For the first time, Saudi Arabia grants permission for Air India flights headed to Israel to use its airspace.

Air India said on Tuesday that while it had issued such a request, the regulator had yet to give it a positive answer.

Interacting with reporters after his meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Netanyahu said that Air India had signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to use its airspace. After being able to fly over Saudi airspace to fly to Israel would also allow the national carrier to cut down their costs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday Saudi Arabia had granted permission to an Indian airline to fly through Saudi airspace en route to Israel.

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"We have applied for the route with (India's) directorate general of civil aviation", a spokesman told AFP.

Air India has not published when it would begin its flights to Tel Aviv, with media speculating they are due to start later in March.

Netanyahu, who visited India in January, acknowledged the agreement could hurt El Al.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu said in Washington that Saudi Arabian authorities have not granted overflight approval to El Al, which operates four weekly flights to Mumbai.

If Saudi Arabia were to ease its airspace regulations it could be seen as concrete evidence of warming relations with Israel and a broader re-configuring of regional alliances.


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