Air India's maiden flight to Israel has landed in Tel Aviv, reducing the travel time substantially after Saudi Arabia for the first time allowed a commercial flight to use its airspace. Image source: Pixabay
Air India's maiden flight to Israel has landed in Tel Aviv, reducing the travel time substantially after Saudi Arabia for the first time allowed a commercial flight to use its airspace, indicating a thaw in relations between the Arab kingdom and the Jewish state. Heralding a new beginning in the people-to-people contact and diplomatic ties between India and Israel, the state-run Air India introduced the direct thrice-a-week flight from New Delhi to Tel Aviv yesterday. Saudi Arabia permitted Air India to use its airspace, enabling it to take a shorter route, covering the distance in 7.25 hours, about 2.10 hours less as compared to the only other airline that flies between the two countries -- Israel's national carrier El Al.
Air India Flight AI 139 landed at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport at 2215 PM (Israeli time) yesterday, heralding a new chapter in the India-Israel ties and ending a decades-old overfly ban by Saudi Arabia. "This is really a historical moment... We are in a new era. 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 said. He said such a direct link would further strengthen the relationship between the two nations. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Israel considers the new route important, noting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the matter of the route with his counterpart Narendra Modi when the two met in July in Israel and then in January in India, Haaretz newspaper reported.
The ministry said this Air India route would also lower fares and boost investment and tourism from India to Israel. Saudi Arabia's decision to permit Air India to use its airspace has enabled the airline to take a shorter route.
Many Arab and Islamic nations do not recognise Israel and, therefore, disallow airlines from using their airspace for flight services to that country.
On a query over Saudi Arabia allowing Air India to use its airspace, Levin said: "We have to very cautious. This is really a first step -- a very important one... I hope with times we have more and more normal relation with our neighbour in this region... India played a very important bridge (by introducing this flight over Saudi airspace) not only between India and us but also between Israel and other countries in this region."
Terming as "historic" the moment of arrival of Air India's maiden flight to Tel Aviv, Indian Ambassador to Israel Pavan Kapoor said a lot of efforts had gone into it over the last two years with a strong vision and support for the initiative from the prime ministers of both the countries. He said the initiative would strengthen the relationship between the two countries in various spheres, including political, trade and cultural.
Air India Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Pradeep Kharola said the Air India direct flight has the shortest route connecting New Delhi and Tel Aviv and will bring people of the two countries closer.
The Air India flight will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. While the inaugural flight AI 139 left at 6 pm IST yesterday, the scheduled departure will be 4.50 pm IST from March 25 when the summer schedule comes into operation.
The state-run carrier will be operating its 256-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner on this route. Kharola and Israel Ministry of Tourism Director Hassan Madah cut a symbolic cake to mark the start of the direct flight to Israel. Kharola had earlier said the airline anticipates interest from travellers from countries further to the east of India such as Australia.
The Air India flew over Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to reach Israel. The permission to fly over Saudi Arabia will save Air India almost 2 hours and 10 minutes compared to the longer route taken by Israels national carrier El Al, which has direct flights between Tel Aviv and Mumbai.
Watch this Zee Business video on Indo-Israel ties
El Al takes a circuitous route over the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and then enters India and avoids countries that are on the direct flight path such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
By continuing to browse or use our sites, you agree that we can store and access cookies and other tracking technologies as described in this policy.
A cookie is a small text file that can be stored on and accessed from your device when you visit one of our sites, to the extent you agree. The other tracking technologies work similarly to cookies and place small data files on your devices or monitor your website activity to enable us to collect information about how you use our sites. This allows our sites to recognize your device from those of other users on our sites. The information provided below about cookies also applies to these other tracking technologies.
These are those cookies that belong to us and which we place on your device or are those set by a website that is being visited by the user at the time (e.g., cookies placed by zeenews.india.com)
Some features used on this website may involve a cookie being sent to your computer by a third party. For example, if you view or listen to any embedded audio or video content you may be sent cookies from the site where the embedded content is hosted. Likewise, if you share any content on this website through social networks (for example by clicking a Facebook “like” button or a “Tweet” button) you may be sent cookies from these websites. We do not control the setting of these cookies so please check the websites of these third parties for more information about their cookies and how to manage them.
Session cookies are temporary and deleted from your machine when your web browser closes. We use session cookies to help us track internet usage as described above.
The data collected by the sites and/or through Cookies that may be placed on your computer will not be kept for longer than is necessary to fulfil the purposes mentioned above. In any event, such information will be kept in our database until we get explicit consent from you to remove all the stored cookies.
These cookie are essential to our site in order to enable you to move around it and to use its features. Without these essential cookies we may not be able to provide certain services or features and our site will not perform as smoothly for you as we would like. These cookies, for example, let us recognize that you have created an account and have logged in/out to access site content. They also include Cookies that enable us to remember your previous actions within the same browsing session and secure our sites.
These cookies are used by us or by our third-party service providers to analyse how the sites are used and how they are performing. For example, these cookies track what content are most frequently visited, your viewing history and from what locations our visitors come from. If you subscribe to a newsletter or otherwise register with the Sites, these cookies may be correlated to you.
These cookies let us operate the sites in accordance with the choices you make. These cookies permit us to "remember you” in-between visits. For instance, we will recognize your user name and remember how you customized the sites and services, for example by adjusting text size, fonts, languages and other parts of web pages that are alterable, and provide you with the same customizations during future visits.
If you do not want cookies to be dropped on your device, you can adjust the setting of your Internet browser to reject the setting of all or some cookies and to alert you when a cookie is placed on your device. For further information about how to do so, please refer to your browser ‘help’ / ‘tool’ or ‘edit’ section for cookie settings w.r.t your browser that may be Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox etc.
Please note that if your browser setting is already setup to block all cookies (including strictly necessary Cookies) you may not be able to access or use all or parts or functionalities of our sites.
If you want to remove previously-stored cookies, you can manually delete the cookies at any time from your browser settings. However, this will not prevent the sites from placing further cookies on your device unless and until you adjust your Internet browser setting as described above.
For more information on the development of user-profiles and the use of targeting/advertising Cookies, please see www.youronlinechoices.eu if you are located in Europe or www.aboutads.info/choices if in the United States.