Saudi Arabia Is Allowing an Israel-Bound Flight to Use Its Airspace

Feb 7, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

In a shocking decision by Saudi Arabia, the country has granted one Israel-bound flight the approval to use Saudi airspace. Air India is set to launch a nonstop route between Delhi (DEL) and Tel Aviv (TLV) in March, and Saudi has granted the airline permission to use its airspace for the operations. The new permission for Air India will shave about 2.5 hours the regular flight time to operate that route.

As reported by Haaretz, El Al is currently the only other airline to operate a nonstop route between Israel and India — TLV to Mumbai (BOM). Because the Saudi government forbids flights that depart from or land in Israel from operating in its airspace, the El Al aircraft is required to cross the Red Sea and cut around Yemen.

Aside from US Presidents flying on Air Force One to or from Israel, no other Israeli-bound or originating flight has been permitted to use Saudi airspace. Private jets flying to or from Israel have often added a stop in Amman to avoid the airspace restriction. So, this is a historic first for Israel, Saudi Arabia and Air India. The major loser with this decision seems to be El Al, which is still required to operate around Saudi airspace. Only time will tell if this decision is a sign of a true warming of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. If that turns out to be the case, Saudi Arabia could eventually open its airspace to El Al flights as well.

Tel Aviv skyline
Tel Aviv skyline. (Photo by @vidal.cohen via Twenty20)

It’s worth noting, however, that while Saudi Arabia seems to be loosening restrictions on Israeli flights, it still has its Qatar blockade in place. Qatar Airways-operated flights are still not permitted to use the airspace of several Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.