Saudi Arabia announces opening of airspace for all carriers

Riyadh: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the opening of its airspace to all air carriers, including flights to and from Israel.

The Saudi Civil Aviation Authority said, in a statement on Twitter, that it had decided to “open the kingdom’s airspace to all air carriers” that meet the requirements for crossing the country’s airspace.

The decision came as a result of the Kingdom’s “keenness to fulfill its obligations under the Chicago Convention of 1944, which stipulates non-discrimination between civil aircrafts used in international air navigation,” the authority said in the post.

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It said the rule change was designed to “complement the efforts aimed at consolidating the Kingdom’s position as a global hub connecting three continents and to enhance international air connectivity.”

In early May, Saudi Arabia announced that it was seeking to develop its aviation sector, with the aim of turning the country into a global centre for air travel.

Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector goals included in Vision 2030 reforms include more than tripling annual passenger traffic to 300 million passengers by the end of the decade.

Saudi Arabia is also seeking to attract $100 billion in investments to the sector by 2030, create a new airline, build a “mega airport” in Riyadh, and increase freight by five million tons each year.

US President Joe Biden welcomed the “historic decision” to open Saudi airspace to “all air carriers.”

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said in a statement that the US president “welcomes the historic decision by Saudi leaders to open their airspace to all civilian air carriers without discrimination,” including “flights to and from Israel.”

Sullivan pointed out that “this decision is the result of President (Biden’s) diligent and principled diplomacy with Saudi Arabia over several months, which culminates in his visit today” to Saudi Arabia.

US president, who is currently conducting his first tour in the Middle East, met with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem on Wednesday and Thursday, and today, Friday, he is scheduled to make an unprecedented, direct official trip from Israel to Saudi Arabia.

Lapid praises the Saudi decision

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid praised the Saudi decision as an opening of Saudi airspace to Israeli flights, saying that “after a long path of secrecy and intense diplomacy against the United States and Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia announced the opening of its airspace to Israeli airlines.”

Lapid expressed his thanks to President Biden for his assistance in this field to Saudi Arabia, wishing him success in the Jeddah summit.

Shortly after the Abraham Accords were announced in 2020, Saudi Arabia allowed an Israeli plane to pass on its way to Abu Dhabi and announced that Emirati flights to “all countries” could fly over the kingdom.

Friday’s announcement effectively lifts overflight restrictions on aircraft travelling to and from Israel.

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