Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Monday that Saudi Arabia has granted Air India approval to fly through its airspace to and from Tel Aviv, Reuters reported.
“Air India signed an agreement today to fly to Israel over Saudi Arabia,” Netanyahu said during a briefing to Israeli reporters at the Blair House in Washington, DC adding that the travel time shorten the flight path and save fuel costs.
However, it could not be confirmed from either the Saudi officials or Air India.
Saudi Arabia and many Islamic nations do not recognise Israel and, therefore, disallow airlines from using their airspace for flight services to that country.
Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel and an approval from the kingdom to use its airspace by lifting a 70-year-old ban could signal the first tangible sign for diplomatic relations between the two countries.
As of now, Israel’s El Al flights between Tel Aviv and Mumbai take a seven-hour circuitous route and fly over the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and then enter India and avoid countries that are on the direct flight path such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.