Saudi Arabia Allows Flights to Israel to Use its Airspace

As I pointed out with the launch of the blockade against Qatar last June, there’s a huge shift going on in the Mideast.

While conflict with Israel gets the most press in the U.S., the primary conflict is between Saudi Arabia (along with Turkey) seeking Sunni influence in the region and working to counter Shia Iran. The conflict in Syria, for instance, is largely a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudis have fought Iran-backed rebels in Yemen over the past several years.

Though anti-Israel rhetoric continues, it’s notable that Turkish-Israeli trade has quadrupled under Erdoğan and economic interests are bringing the countries closer together.

Now Saudi Arabia now allows overflight of its airspace for flights enroute to Israel. (HT: Roar_Singh)

Saudi Arabia has granted Air India approval to operate direct flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv, sources in the Israeli flight industry told Haaretz. This is the first time the Saudis are allowing flights to Israel to use their airspace.

The approval means that the duration of flights from India to Israel will be shortened by two-and-a-half hours, compared to the route currently in use.

Saudi Arabia doesn’t just ban flights between the Kingdom and Israel but until now has banned aircraft departing from or bound for Israel from using its airspace. The only known flights to circumvent this restriction were by US Presidents onboard Air Force One. Private flights using Saudi airspace generally make Amman, Jordan a technical stop to circumvent this restriction.

El Al though isn’t expected to benefit from this liberalization. Such a move would be a step too far politically even as Saudi Arabia seeks to liberalize internally as well as thaw relations with Israel in service of joint security concerns.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. the new crown prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud seems to be making lots of moves lately in an attempt to reform and transform RSA into more of the likes of UAE, so this might be another one of his ideas – giving them candy here and there in long-term hopes to secure an even closer military alliance (and one backed by a nuclear power) in his fight against Iran ?

  2. Gary wrote, “The conflict in Syria, for instance, is largely a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudis have fought Iran-backed rebels in Yemen over the past several years.”

    Hahahahaha…..sure it is Gary—-How about you travel there and give us your on-the-scene report? Then you’ll realize it’s a proxy war between the USA and Russia, and all local politics are hundreds of tribes that adhere to the days of the caveman. Naturally a Trump Sunni metropolitan middle-east is better than an Obama Shiite ghetto middle east any day.

  3. This helps Saudi Arabia because they will receive lots of money from Air India for using its airspace.
    Next up might be Hainan & Korean air.

  4. ADP_boy said “…Naturally a Trump Sunni metropolitan middle-east is better than an Obama Shiite ghetto middle east any day.”

    “…better…”?? Better for whom?

    P.S: If you are urged to answer this question, then it is not meant for you 😉

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