Etihad Airways Operates Historic Flight To Israel

Filed Under: Etihad

Update: There ended up being issues with this flight, but Etihad ended up operating a second flight to Tel Aviv.

Well this is awesome to see.

As reported by The Times of Israel, today Etihad Airways operated a cargo flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv, which is the first known direct flight operated by an airline between the UAE and Israel.

An Etihad Airways A330 in an all white livery operated the flight (perhaps it’s one of the A330s they’re in the process of retiring), which landed at Ben Gurion Airport at around 9PM local time this evening.

The flight took 4hr11min, which is significantly longer than you’d assume based on the direct air distance of 1,311 miles, but the plane had to fly nearly 50% further due to airspace restrictions to & from Israel. The flight ended up covering just shy of 2,000 miles.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have no formal diplomatic relations, though the two countries have started to cooperate a bit more, which is a step in the right direction, if you ask me.

The flight was coordinated with the Israeli government, and while it wasn’t carrying any passengers, it was carrying 14 tons of cargo, including humanitarian aid provided to the Palestinians through the World Food Program.

The UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) confirmed that the shipment included 14 tons of medical supplies, including 10 ventilators and protective equipment.

Well done, to the UAE and Israel!

(Tip of the hat to Alon)

  1. Not surprising given both countries belongs to US-coordinated anti-Iran alliance, and if Expo 2020 is still running, Israel are actually invited to join the expo in Dubai.

  2. Well done. Researching that aircraft I came across pics of it in Saudia livery “operated by Etihad”. Any intel on that arrangement?

  3. Any thoughts on why Etihad couldn’t utilize Jordanian airspace? Most airlines are trying to *avoid* Iraqi and Syrian airspace, so it’s surprising to see the UAE avoiding Jordanian airspace when I would assume the two countries have a good relationship.

  4. Why would EY have to avoid so much airspace, especially over Saudi Arabia? If AI can fly from BOM to TLV over Saudi Arabia, I imagine it doesn’t have to do with the fact that the destination of the flight was TLV. Same with Jordan, which is the only airline that has regularly scheduled flights of all of Israel’s neighbors (Air Sinai excluded).

  5. @nathan, totally agree. From reports I read the flight actually didn’t fly over any part of Syria but definitely flew over Iraq but then into Turkey. Regardless, very bizarre that the route wasn’t through Saudi and then Jordan which clearly is more direct and there has been a real thaw publicly between Saudi and Israel in the last few years while Israel and Iraq don’t seem to have any real contacts.

    Looking at the flight path also shows how the flight clearly avoided flying over Cyprus after leaving Northern Cyprus and Turkish airspace.

    Middle East geopolitics are super interesting! Wonder if Etihad will take same route on way back.

  6. Yep – Israel is not going anywhere so may as well start passenger services and just move on from the historical differences.

  7. I’m sure the flight path had to do with not flying over the West Bank and other buffer areas where drones have flown so to not have any friendly aircraft possibly mixed up with drones. Better to have it routed to come in directly from the Mediterranean Sea.

  8. Wowser: for a small country Israel is endowed with some enormous brainpower.
    Just read about Moderna, which may have a first to market covid vaccine and saw that the chief medical officer Dr. Tal Zaks is a PHD +MD graduate of Ben Gurion medical facility in Israel.
    As they say in a certain mid east language “kol Kavoad.”

    I am George the infrequently traveling one compared with the other George who really moves around.

  9. I remember years ago, Israel used to have a commercial office located in the state of QATAR.

  10. This is a step in the right direction and really nice to see the two countries coordinating. No idea why they took that way? Could it be to cut airspace fees?

    I hope the anti-Iran alliance succeeds in freeing the Iranian people.

  11. This is so wrong. Is nobody going to say anything about how Israel is occupying Palestine to the point that Palestine needs its food aid to be routed through Israel? Let’s not even start about they freely kill civilian Palestinians and restrict their movements. Why should Palestine need to receive food aid through another country? Especially one that’s been encroaching further and further into its territory and now wrongfully controls its border instead. There’s nothing enlightening about this.

  12. @Micah a simple google search into Cyprus and its territorial waters will clearly show you how the flight went over a lot of Cyprus’ airspace just before it landed, and particularly over Larnaca Airport.

  13. Considering how Israel shut down a Palestinian coronavirus testing clinic, allowing medical relief and supplies is the least they can do…even though this does seem more engineered to get good publicity for the Israelis than anything else.

  14. @nathan – I believe they were actually avoiding the west bank and Jordanian airspace was in the range of a missile? Correct me if I’m wrong anyone but they were avoiding Palestinian territory for sure.

  15. What ever we need peace, the UAE is wonderful country and the rulers are open minded, bless the rulers and their kingdom.

  16. @AM
    Well if the PLO stoped saying no to every peace deal that’s been offered then the Palestinians wouldn’t be in this situation would they?

  17. @Phil
    Maybe if they got a decent peace deal offered to them they wouldn’t have to say no?

  18. Arabs and Israel are fundamentally different and in no way to bring peace in longrun, unless Jesus (any of those prophets) returns and clarifies God’s meaning in front of world and also supported by Big 5 in UN.

  19. No mention of Mossad extraction.
    No mention of weapons or equipment going the other direction?

    No cable leaks!!!!!

  20. @Phil
    Well if nobody is illegally occupying their land, restricting their movements, assuming control over their borders, conducting series of bombing and air raids there wouldn’t be a need for peace deal at the first place would there?

  21. People arguing that flying over the West Bank is a problem should look at the route of Royal Jordanian’s flight AMM-TLV, lol.

    Clearly this flight wanted to avoid Western Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon so it went the long way through Turkey.

  22. The occupation of Palestine by Israel is not illegal, just ‘undocumented’ and its purpose is to bring diversity to a future Palestinian state. I am sure many can relate to that.

  23. @AM
    Have you ever been to Israel? The only reason why Israel needs “checkpoints” is to prevent terrorists from crossing over into Israeli communities and murdering innocent civilians. Did you know that Hamas terrorists have dug tunnels from Gaza into Israel in order to carry out kidnappings and to smuggle weapons? Probably not by the way you post…..

  24. @Aaron and AM the PLO we’re offered Jerusalem, the West Bank and gaza back in 2000 at the camp David summit by Bill Clinton and Ehud Barack yet Arafat walked out the meeting. In 1948 the Arab countries rejected the new Jewish state and declared war even tho Israel accepted their part of the land were willing to live alongside the Palestinian state. Do some research perhaps.

  25. Israel is an apartheid state. Hopefully, one day Palestinians get their justice. I hope what Israelis inflicted on Palestinians since 1948 and continue to do so today comes back to hunt them. What goes around comes around.

    Below is a link to an article that shows how Israel has shut down a Palestinian covid-19 testing health clinic when Palestinians already have a massive shortage of health supplies.

  26. @AM and Aaron. Correction. Arrafat was offered back in 2000 half of Jerusalem, the west bank and gaza yet he walked out the meeting between him Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak. Even before the settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza blockade the Palestinian leadership and their allies across the middle east always say NO to any peace offering. Their only aim is to annihilate the Jewish State. Something you lefties would probably want to see.

  27. I think its wonderful that some countries are developing closer relations during this pandemic to help the sick and needy. However, Israeli pressure and lobbying has meant that US sanctions on Iran haven’t allowed medical supplies and medicine to enter Iran. Probably thousands have died in Iran because of Israel. Shame on Israel.

  28. @DSB yeah let’s hope the Palestinians get a new government which does not say NO to every peace agreement and @Carl Sanders Iran was offered US support and said no. Also Iran has billions in reserves so surely they can help their people without US help.

  29. @Daniel @Phil
    Compare the original area allotted to Israel and the area they’re controlling now, ceteris paribus. Is it not unforeseeable that Palestinians would retaliate? The creation of Israel in the first place was against the original promise made by the British. I did my research, have you? In case you haven’t, don’t forget to look up for Israel’s crime against humanity

  30. @AB the countries surrounding Israel even rejected the original 1948 proposal. Years before a small part of what today is Northern Israel was offered as a Jewish state and the rest was to go to the Palestinians yet that was even rejected by the Palestinians. Face it, the only aim is the annihilation of Israel. The Palestinian Authority and its bordering countries rejectionism is what lead to today’s situation. Even Abbas admitted that the 1948 plan should never have been rejected. And boy I have done my research! And do you really think the PLO and Hamas are the champions of Human Rights too? How does tying dissidents to the back of motorbikes and dragging them along the road sound?

  31. There is no reason for a conflict between Israel and UAE whatsoever. Both countries share no border, no water, no disputes. Any conflict Israel has with the Palestinians (who live many miles away from UAE) or territorial conflict with Syria has nothing to do with UAE. On the contrary, both countries have common goal to weaken Iran and share economic ties. Therefore, there is no reason in my onion not to have a normal aviation relations between Israel and UAE, with planes flying over Saudi Arabia (as Air India planes flying to Tel Aviv do) and Jordan.

  32. Refusing the aid would not be inconsistent with every attempt by world leaders to bring peace to the area. I remember being so hopeful about the Clinton Camp David talks then Arafat realized he’d be out of a job and scuttled the talks.
    I guess he realized he’d lose his lovely villas in Italy and France.

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