Jerusalem, 23 March, 2023 (TPS) — El Al, Israel’s national airline, announced on Thursday plans for direct flights to India over Saudi airspace starting in October.
The airline said it will operate four weekly flights to Mumbai and two weekly flights to New Delhi.
“The launch of the new routes is now possible following the recently received approval to fly over the skies of Saudi Arabia and Oman,” El Al said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia began permitting Israeli overflights in August, but direct routes to destinations in India and China still had to overfly Oman, which granted permission in February. Israel does not have formal diplomatic relations with Oman or Saudi Arabia.
Previous Israel-India flights had to fly around those countries. El Al shut down its flights to India during the COVID pandemic.
According to El Al, the Saudi and Omani overflights reduce flight times by more than two hours to destinations in India, China, the Philippines and Australia.
Last week, El Al announced plans for the first direct flights between Israel and Australia. Non-stop Tel Aviv-Melbourne flights are due to begin in June 2024.
Transportation officials hope that the opportunities for more lines will raise Israel’s profile as a hub for international aviation.