Benjamin Netanyahu says Saudi Arabia to open airspace to India-Israel flights

Benjamin Netanyahu says Saudi Arabia to open airspace to India-Israel flights

The flight's shorter-than-usual haul is due to the fact that Air India received permission to fly over Saudi airspace.

The official announcement from Air India comes days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters during his visit to the United States that Saudi Arabia had given permission to the Indian carrier for flying over its territory on its route from New Delhi to Tel Aviv.

Air India initially said after Netanyahu's announcement that it was still awaiting formal permission for the flight.

The new Israel-India route was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Israel in July. Riyadh has consistently kept mum on Israeli hints of covert ties with the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

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Jerusalem Post had reported that after his meeting with US President Donald Trump, Netanyahu said that Air India signed an agreement that day enabling the flights to and from Israel over Saudi Arabia. "We have yet to receive anything from authorities", Air India spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar told i24NEWS on Tuesday.

However, Israel's national carrier El Al, which was until now the only airline offering direct flights from Israel to India, was not granted permission by the Saudis to use their airspace, according to Netanyahu.

India's national carrier Air India on Wednesday began selling direct five-hour flights between Delhi and Israel's Ben-Gurion worldwide airport.