Saudi to open airspace to India-Israel flights, says Netanyahu

Saudi to open airspace to India-Israel flights, says Netanyahu

If the airline is allowed permission to fly over Saudi Arabia, the duration of the flight will come down by about two hours.

The approval would have dramatically cut flight time from Mumbai to Tel Aviv - the current flight plan skirts the Gulf States and their airspace - and would have signalled a dramatic shift in the historically icy relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile in New Delhi, an Air India spokesperson reacting to Prime Minister Netanyahu's statement said, "We are yet to receive any communication from the Indian regulator".

Speaking to reporters after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, Netanyahu said Air India flights will fly over Saudi territory on its routes to and from Tel Aviv. Then, sources from within Air India had confirmed that permission to use Saudi airspace for flights to Israel was coming soon.

India's national carrier Air India is scheduled to begin its direct flight between New Delhi and Tel Aviv in few weeks from now.

Saudi officials swiftly denied okaying an agreement in February after Indian authorities said they had applied for permission to overfly the country on trips to and from Israel. Israel media have said that Saudi overflight routes could reduce travel time by more than two hours.

The Saudi government had banned flights headed to Israel from using its airspace for 70 years.

The new Israel-India route was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Israel in July. Air India had earlier announced to start direct flight between Delhi and Tel Aviv. The reason being, flying to and from Israel have until now been barred from Saudi airspace.

But the decision also signifies warmer ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have been seen as having increasingly covert relations over the past year.

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