Tel Aviv: In a new chapter of India-Israeli relations, the first direct flight of Air India from New Delhi to Tel Aviv arrived on Thursday ending a decades-old overfly ban by Saudi Arabia.
Flight AI 139 landed at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told news agency PTI that it is a new ear and a historic 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,” he said.
The move by Saudi Arabia to permit Air India to utilise the airspace has now made it possible to take a shorter route. Now, the flight will cover the distance in seven hours, which is two hours lesser than what is usually used to take earlier.
Namaste and Shalom! // Air India (@AirIndiain)'s inaugural Delhi-Tel Aviv flight has landed in Israel, becoming the first commercial flight to pass over Saudi Arabia en route to the Jewish state. ???? pic.twitter.com/bcPJwTqQoq
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) March 22, 2018
However, Levin said that they have to be alert as Saudi allows Air India to use airspace. He said it is a first step and an important one. “I hope with time we have more and more normal relationship with our neighbour in this region…India played a very important bridge not only between India and us but also between Israel and other countries in this region,” Levin further added, as quoted by PTI.
Operational on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the flight will be departed at 4:50 pm IST from March 25 after the summer schedule comes into force. Air India will be operating 256-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route. AI flew over Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordon to go to Israel.