With Israel and the United Arab Emirates establishing diplomatic ties, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain seem to be warming up to Israel as well… at least when it comes to aviation rights.
Saudi Arabia & Bahrain open airspace to Israel
Jared Kushner has announced this week that both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have agreed to allow all flights to & from Israel to pass over their airspace, which has huge implications.
This follows an announcement last week that Saudi Arabia would formally give permission to all flights to & from the UAE to use its airspace. Since Saudi Arabia and the UAE are allies, the major implication there was that flights between Israel and the UAE could use Saudi Arabian airspace.
However, this latest announcement is even more significant. It means that all flights to & from Israel can use Saudi Arabian airspace, and not just flights between Israel and the UAE.
This will potentially shave a couple of hours off flights between Tel Aviv and destinations in Africa, Asia, etc.
Flights to & from Israel will be able to use Saudi Arabian airspace
Saudi Arabia’s complicated airspace up until now
Prior to this announcement we’ve seen Saudi Arabia slowly warm up to select Israeli flights using its airspace, though only under certain circumstances.
For example, last week EL AL operated a special charter flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, carrying a delegation from the US and Israel. This flight operated through Saudi Arabia airspace, where a majority of the journey was spent. This was the first time that an Israel registered aircraft used Saudi Arabian airspace.
Several weeks ago, Etihad Airways operated a couple of cargo flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv, and those flights specifically avoided Saudi Arabian airspace.
In other markets there has been inconsistent treatment of flights to & from Israel. For example, both Air India and EL AL have flown between India and Israel. Air India had permission to use Saudi Arabian airspace…
Meanwhile EL AL didn’t have permission to use Saudi Arabian airspace…
It’s fantastic to see the pace at which restrictions are being eased in the Middle East. Just last week an Israeli plane used Saudi Arabian airspace for the first time. Then it was announced that flights between Israel and the UAE could use Saudi Arabian airspace. Now it has been announced that all flights to & from Israel can use Saudi Arabian airspace.
Man, what strange times when EL AL can use Saudi Arabian airspace, but Qatar Airways can’t…
Are you surprised to see Saudi Arabia open its airspace to all flights to & from Israel?