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Air India makes historic journey to Israel over Saudi Arabia

Air India makes historic journey to Israel over Saudi Arabia

"I am sure that we will see many more Indian tourists coming to Israel... and Israelis would also come to India in much higher numbers", Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told PTI.

'The Air India flew over Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to reach Israel, ' The Times of India reported, adding that 'The permission to fly over Saudi Arabia will save Air India nearly 2 hours and 10 minutes compared to the longer route taken by Israel's national carrier EI AI'.

Until now, only one carrier El Al operated flights between Israel and India - Tel Aviv to Mumbai - which is a seven-hour trip.

Air India said on March 7 that it had received the necessary approvals from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel on Thursday with an Air India route flying non-stop between New Delhi and Tel Aviv - a sign of a behind-the-scenes improvement in ties between the Arab kingdom and the Jewish state.

Air India completed on Thursday the first scheduled service to Israel to be allowed to cross Saudi airspace.

It plans to take its own fight for access to Saudi airspace to the Supreme Court in Israel, officials said on Friday. Though Air India is saddled with huge debt (currently at Rs 51,890 crore), acquiring the airline can help boost the acquirer in terms of foot print, bilteral flying rights, parking slots, etc. An Air India cabin supevisor slapped a flight attendant onboard over wrongly served non-veg meal.

El Al now flies four times a week to the Indian city of Mumbai.

The decision will reduce flight duration by two and a half hours between the two cities - New Delhi and Tel Aviv - and it will also decrease fuel cost. "While IndiGo normally doesn't respond to rumors, in this particular instance, we would like to state that there are no ongoing discussions of this nature", the airline said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The Arabs have never been closer to Israel", Netanyahu said during a visit to Washington earlier this month, adding that the greatest challenge for both Israel and its potential Arab partners is Iran.

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