Earlier today Air India operated a new service, connecting Delhi and Tel Aviv. Flying between those two airports is not historic – the route competes with El Al service – but the path the plane took is. For the first time in 70 years Saudi air traffic controllers permitted overflight of an aircraft headed to Israel.
🇮🇳✈️🇮🇱 Air India’s inaugural Delhi-Tel Aviv flight has now entered Saudi Arabian airspace. #AI139 is the first commercial flight in 7 decades to fly over Saudi Arabia en route to Israel.⁰⁰
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 22, 2018
Getting to this point is something of a diplomacy master stroke. El Al cannot fly the shorter routing despite years of pushing for such through third parties. But Air India managed to pull it off. It was uncertain that the approval would ultimately be granted, with conflicting reports over the status up until earlier this month.
The bigger question now is will that recognition spread to other industries and organizations. Too early to say for sure, but getting even this far is impressive progress in a region where such developments are all too rare.
Then again, maybe Saudi Arabia just has a “one in, one out” policy and is letting Israel swap in for Qatar now that the latter is blocked from flying to, from or over Saudi airspace. But probably not, right??
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