Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has granted Air India approval to operate direct flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv, sources in the Israeli flight industry told. This is the first time the Saudis are allowing flights to Israel to use their airspace.
The approval means that the duration of flights from India to Israel will be shortened by two-and-a-half hours, compared to the route currently in use. The new route will allow the airline to reduce fuel costs and sell cheaper tickers to passengers.
Right now the only carrier that flies directly to India is El Al, which flies an 8-hour route from Ben-Gurion International Airport to Mumbai. The route crosses the Red Sea south of Yemen, then turns east to India.
Since New Delhi is a new destination from which there are no flights to Israel, the aviation company will be getting a 750,000 euro grant from the Tourism Ministry for operating the new line, according to a calculation of 250,000 euros per weekly flight. This grant is, among other things, the impetus for Air India to launch the line.