Air India denies 'any confirmation' for flights to Israel using Saudi Airspace

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The national carrier had planned to launch the service in May previous year, but it couldn't materialise after some countries denied use of their airspaces for flights to Israel.

Air India's website showed options to book flights to Tel Aviv from New Delhi starting March 22, with fares starting at 24,124 Indian rupees ($371.94).

The announcement from Air India comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Monday, during his visit to the United States, that Saudi Arabia had given permission to the Indian carrier for flying over its territory on its route from New Delhi to Tel Aviv.

Whilst Saudi Arabia and Israel do not have diplomatic ties, many perceive this confirmation to signal a small but unprecedented step in thawing relations between Israel and some Arab states.

The airline spokesperson confirmed that the flight will be operating thrice a week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday and said the flight to overfly Saudi airspace.

"The route time given by the DGCA to us is seven hours and five minutes, and looking at that schedule we believe it must be flying over the Saudi airspace", the spokesman said.

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Now the only other airline to fly between the two countries is Israeli flag carrier El Al, which is forced to take an elongated route to avoid Saudi airspace.

Speaking to reporters accompanying him in Washington on Monday, Netanyahu said that Air India had reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia to use their airspace.

"The Times of India" reports that Air India will use Boeing 787 Dreamliners for the route with 18 seats in business class and 238 seats in economy class. This was followed by appeals from El Al, the Israeli airline, to be granted similar rights, the report added.

The Air India flight will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Israel and India have seen a surge in cooperation under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Israel's tourism ministry has also announced a one-time grant of 750,000 euros to Air India for the flight operations.