Saudi Arabia on Wednesday granted Air India permission to use its airspace for the journey from New Delhi to Israel’s Capital Tel Aviv, Haaretz reported, citing sources in the Israeli flight industry.
However, an unidentified spokesperson for Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation said no such permission had been granted, according to Reuters.
Saudi Arabia does not recognise the state of Israel. If true, this would be the first time Riyadh has allowed flights to Israel using its airspace.
Currently, El Al is the only carrier that flies directly to India and takes eight hours from Tel Aviv to New Delhi. Saudi Arabia’s approval for Air India to fly over its airspace will shorten the travel time by two and a half, according to Haaretz.
The Israeli Tourism Ministry will give Air India a grant of 7,50,000 euros (Rs 5.92 crore) per month to operate the new line from Delhi to Tel Aviv.
An unidentified Air India spokesperson was quoted as saying by Reuters that the airline had requested slots for three-weekly flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv. The Israeli Airports Authority told the agency that the service would begin in early March.
The Air India spokesperson said the carrier was awaiting permission from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to fly over Saudi Arabia.