There was a bit of a media frenzy last week, after a Saudia plane was spotted at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. As most of you probably know, Israel and Saudi Arabia don’t have diplomatic relations, to put it mildly.
So why was the plane in Israel?
Via The Times Of Israel:
The plane was taken to Israel on Wednesday for routine maintenance by Hi Fly, a Lisbon-based airplane leasing company.
“The company had been given a contract for air transport to provide Saudia with planes for commercial operations,” a statement by Saudia said.
As per the directions of the company, the plane landed in Israel for routine upkeep by Bedek, an Israeli company contracted by Israel Aircraft Industries.
An IAI spokesperson confirmed the plane’s arrival on Wednesday and said that the “ongoing and routine maintenance” of the Airbus passenger plane was part of the services Ben-Gurion provided to the aircraft manufacturer.
Not surprisingly Saudia wasn’t happy about this. Not only were they displeased, but they actually terminated their contract based on this, given that taking the plane to Israel was a violation of their contract:
According to Saudia, by taking the plane to Tel Aviv, Hi Fly had committed a blatant violation of the contract, which mandates that the leasing company obtain written approval mentioning the airports where it is to land or undergo routine maintenance.
“Such landing or operation process should take place in a country that shares diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enable Saudia staff and the Civil Aviation authority to conduct inspection and follow up on the maintenance operation at any time,” Arab News quoted from Hi Fly’s contract with the Saudi carrier.
(Tip of the hat to AJ)