Saudi Arabia officially approves Israeli flights over its airspace

In September, Saudi Arabia declared that it will be allowing all foreign civilian flights to fly over its airspace, but didn’t mention Israel.

Saudi Arabia announced on Monday evening that it has officially given approval for Israeli airlines to fly over the country’s airspace, dramatically shortening flights to the east and finally allowing the airlines to offer direct flights to Dubai, Israeli media reported.

Saudi Arabia’s announcement meant that an Israir flight between Tel Aviv and Dubai planned for Tuesday, departed Ben-Gurion Airport as originally planned, marking the first direct Israeli flight from Tel Aviv to Dubai.

Transportation Minister Miri Regev congratulated the Saudis on their announcement. “I’m glad to see that after several long, tense hours of waiting and receiving many inquiries from concerned passengers and airline companies, the Saudis just gave their approval for the first Israeli commercial flight to depart tomorrow as planned,” Regev wrote on Facebook on Monday. “I wish all passengers a safe trip and a safe return.”

Earlier on Monday, Emirati officials clarified to Israel’s Transportation Ministry that as long as Saudi Arabia doesn’t issue Israeli airline companies a permit to fly over its airspace, the UAE won’t allow any Israeli flight to land in Dubai, KAN reported.

The issue was reportedly examined by the Foreign Ministry, which opened a dialogue with the Saudis in an attempt to speed up the approval process.

In September, Saudi Arabia declared that it will be allowing all foreign civilian flights to fly over its airspace, following a request by the UAE, “in order to allow passage over the kingdom’s airspace for flights reaching the UAE and departing from it.” However, the message didn’t specifically mention Israel, which had raised concerns with Israeli aviation officials in recent weeks.

With flights already full, Israeli airline companies Israir, Arkia and El Al are prepared to fly thousands of Israelis to Dubai during the month of December. They can now be calm and know that the flights will be carried out as planned.

The aviation agreement signed between Israel and the UAE allows Israel to prohibit foreign airline companies from using the direct route from Tel Aviv to Dubai if Israeli airlines are not allowed to use it. Such flights are already being operated by various airline companies, including FlyDubai (officially the Dubai Aviation Corporation).

FlyDubai operated the first direct tourist flight from Tel Aviv to Dubai earlier in November, carrying some 174 businessmen and tourists on historic flight FZ8194 over Saudi airspace.

In September, Jared Kushner told reporters that “Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will allow all Israeli flights to pass over their territory, and not just flights to and from the Emirates.”

That dramatic announcement was expected to have significant effects on Israeli flights to the east, shortening flying time by 2-3 hours to various destinations there. “It’s as if we caused a burst of optimism,” Kushner added at the time. “We see countries doing what’s best for their interests.”

Check Also

Iran trained Russians on using armed drones, US intel says

The Pentagon has warned Iran not to provide armed drones to Russia for use in …