An Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Is Enroute To Israel

Filed Under: Etihad

An Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 is currently enroute to Ben Gurion Airport, which marks the second time ever that the airline is flying to Israel.

Etihad’s controversial first flight to Israel

Israel and the United Arab Emirates don’t have diplomatic relations, though the two countries do seem to be cooperating a bit more recently. On May 19, Etihad Airways operated a cargo-only flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv.

An Etihad A330 was carrying 16 tons of cargo for Palestinians, including ventilators and other humanitarian aid. While this seemed like a nice gesture on the surface, it ended up backfiring somewhat.

Palestine initially rejected the aid, as it was claimed that the UAE didn’t coordinate the arrangement directly with Palestine, but rather did so with Israel. Palestine viewed this simply as “a cover for normalization.”

As the Palestinian Health Minister explained at the time:

“The UAE has not coordinated with us regarding the medical aid, and we reject to receive it without coordination. We are a sovereign country, and they should have coordinated with us first.”

It’s my understanding that the aid did end up going to the Gaza Strip.

Etihad Airways flies to Israel again

Etihad Airways flight 9607, operated by a Boeing 787-9, is currently enroute from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv.

Even though the direct distance between the two airports is about 1,300 miles, the flight is expected to take around four hours, given the detours the plane has to make due to airspace restrictions to & from Israel. The plane will likely fly roughly 2,000 miles, about 50% further than the direct distance.

What’s the purpose of this flight? The airline is once again trying to deliver aid to Palestine. It’s not known how much cargo the plane is carrying this time around, and the exact details of the arrangement aren’t known either.

I would assume that this time around the UAE and Palestinian authorities coordinated directly, since I assume the UAE doesn’t want a similar situation to what happened last time.

From an aviation standpoint, there’s another interesting thing about this flight. The first A330 that Etihad flew to Israel was in an all white livery, so it wasn’t obvious that this was an Etihad plane. This time around the 787-9 delivering the cargo is in the full Etihad livery, so this will be the first time a plane in the Etihad livery touches down in Israel.

Bottom line

Etihad Airways is operating the second-ever nonstop flight by an airline between the UAE and Israel. Hopefully this time around Etihad has more success with actually getting the aid to the intended recipient.

(Tip of the hat to @charlie_laifer)

  1. Does anyone know why these Etihad flights have taken such indirect routings? Israel has ties with Jordan and under the table ties to Saudi Arabia. UAE has relations with Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Air India’s flight from Tel Aviv is allowed to fly over Saudi Arabia. So why is this flight taking such an indirect routing.

  2. @Al Agreed, it makes no sense. The Etihad flight is flying directly over Iraq currently, even though Israel has far better relations with both Jordan and Saudi Arabia. I believe last time it even flew over Syria. Very weird routing.

  3. @Charlie Laifer

    The Iraqi government is in no position to refuse overflight fees from anyone.

    Last time it did not fly over Syria, that was a visual artifact of no radar coverage drawing a straight line between two points. It went around through Turkey and over the Mediterranean, as it will today.

  4. Israel should allow Palestine to receive their supplies. Although Israel has a right to defend herself.

  5. @Charlie Laifer

    While Israel does maintain a good relationship with both Jordan and (unofficially) Saudi Arabia, I think the reason for not flying over these countries deals more with the Saudis and Jordanians lack of desire to publicly make it look like they are assisting Israel to their respective populations.

  6. Don’t call it Palestine. There is no such nation, only a region. You may call it the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. You may also call the people Palestinians.

  7. @Micah but they wouldn’t be, the aid is going to the Palestinians and Saudi Arabia already gives Air India fly over rights on their flight from TLV. The middle east is a wild place………

  8. @Rich it’s actually recognised internationally as the State of Palestine

    I imagine it was easier to fly this extended route rather than fill out numerous forms that airlines have to submit 30days In advance to fly over various countries in that sphere of the globe. Hope this time the aid gets to the Palestinian people.

  9. @D3Kingg

    “Israel should allow Palestine to receive their supplies.”

    They do. It was the Palestinian leadership who refused it. Palestinian leadership’s hatred of Israel is so obsessive that they won’t even accept humanitarian aid from an Arab country out of spite for Israel.

    They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity

  10. @D3Kingg
    To restate the obvious, Israel did not refuse the aid to the palestinian people. Gaza or Hamas did, they preferred to play politics over accepting the aid. Perhaps you missed this nuance because it sound s absurd on the face of it.

  11. @Al,

    Correct, the aid itself is destined to the Palestinians. I should have clarified that I meant assisting Israel in terms of normalization, not the actual supplies on the plane.

    Agreed, the Middle East is indeed a wild place.

  12. Two flights with just a couple of ventilators? This is clearly a cover for Etihad to perform proving flights from AUH to TLV. I expect Etihad to start flying to TLV once the industry recovers with passenger flights. The TLV market connecting through AUH/DXB is too big to ignore. I was expecting Emirates first, but Etihad sees this as a big business opportunity. The amount of TLV traffic to India, Singapore, Australia, NZ, is too much to pass up. This is long overdue.

  13. @Asher, I second that comment. EY has been on a lookout to reunite with Israel. In fact, a top UAE official had stated that ‘It’s time for us to leave the past and its time to reunite.’ (I am not sure of the accuracy but I’m pretty sure that I read it somewhere). I am at least glad that the Middle East is reuniting. Also, I guess, EY has been doing this so that they can invite Israel to Dubai EXPO 2020, which is scheduled to take place next year. Maybe, with FIFA 2022 Qatar coming up soon, there could be chances of QR initiating flights to TLV as well. But who knows? It would be amazing to see such a loooong and a historic conflict come to an end and all of the countries reuniting back.
    Fingers crossed.

  14. Flights between UAE and Israel would be MUCH more likely than Qatar.

    Israel and the UAE, while they do not have formal relations, both states understand that they both have a place in the international system. Israel is unique as it has one of the best militaries in the world for its size and has impressive technology capabilities and the UAE is a developed state with lots of $$.

    Israel would not recognize flights because Qatar funds HAMAS and other terroristic orgs.

    Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi flights would be great to see 🙂

  15. @Asher @bruh @Sharon I would think Emirates makes more sense than Abu Dhabi since Emirates a better route network. The problem is that filling a 777-300 daily TLV-DXB seems like a lofty goal. It’s possible that Etihad could launch the flight instead of emirates but I’d imagine that Emirates will just have FlyDubai fly the route with their 737s.

  16. @asher, @Sharon @bruh

    I also think that a normal AUH-TLV flight on Etihad has potential. Agree that I can’t see a QR Doha-TLV route with current political situation, both Israel and Qatar (country) would most likely face criticism for launching route. As Sharon mentioned, Qatar has a very close relationship with Hamas leadership that wouldn’t go great in Israel and Qatar bashes Israel quite often on Al Jazeera (also owned in totality by Qatar).

    My wild card Middle Eastern airline that I think might fly to TLV first is Gulf Air. The Bahraini foreign minister has said publicly that Israel is a sovereign nation in our region and has a right to exist and defend itself. Bahrain also has hosted many Israelis in the past few years. Gulf Air is much smaller than the “Gulf 3” but I think it will be the one that sets the precedent here.

  17. @Creditcrunch actually “Palestine” is NOT recognized as a state by the United States and MOST Western countries……there is no such thing as “Palestine” at the moment. There may be a “Palestine” in the future when a peace deal is struck between Israel and the Palestinians but there is currently no such state as “Palestine”

  18. @micah, I forgot about Gulf Air, if Saudi Arabia were to grant overflight rights, that would be a slamdunk. Same for Oman Air TLV-Muscat. There is a lot of potential here. Flights through DXB/AUH/BAH/MCT from TLV could fill 737s just with connections onward to SIN.

  19. @Daniel
    To clarify, the ‘State of Palestine’ is recognized by the UN. As such it’s incorrect to say that “there is no such thing as Palestine”.

  20. Some of you called Palestine as a state !!! Its country and called PALESTINE , and any country called isreal . I hope everyone understand that . And all of us we know shy Etihad airlines landed in Telivev

  21. “I would assume that this time around the UAE and Palestinian authorities coordinated directly, since I assume the UAE doesn’t want a similar situation to what happened last time.Of course the UAE wants this to happen again.”

    Of course the UAE wants this to happen again. The first flight was unmarked, while the second was in full Etihad livery, in Tel Aviv, in broad daylight. Abu Dhabi is clearly trying to prove a point to the Palestinian leadership . . . cooperate and stop being petulant children or we’ll 1) openly expose you as frauds who don’t care about your people; and 2) not bother with the charade that we don’t have a relationship with Israel for your benefit. If the Palestinian leadership again refuses the aid, expect somebody from the Royal Family to be on the next Etihad plane to Tel Aviv.

  22. I just like how the state of Israel has always been referred to in the feminine form. Both sides brainwash their children into hating each other .

  23. “The Palestinians sure love to say NO to everything.”

    Not true.

    “Gaza or Hamas did, they preferred to play politics over accepting the aid.”

    Gaza or Hamas? WTF does that even mean?

    “I am at least glad that the Middle East is reuniting.”

    At the expense of the Palestinian people…

    ““Palestine” is NOT recognized as a state by the United States and MOST Western countries”

    Yes, but as of 31 July 2019, 138 of the 193 United Nations (UN) member states and two non-member states have recognized Palestine.

  24. @Rich

    The quickest way to get someone to do something is to tell them NOT to do it. Parents of peevish children and teenagers know this.

  25. Rich – What a bizarre argument. So I can’t ever say “New York”, I have to say “the region of the United States of America commonly known as New York”?

  26. @Callum:
    LOL, seriously the best reply so far! Both sides are insolent children who piss and moan when either country is referred to as having their own country.

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