El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) has petitioned Israel's High Court of Justice against allowing Air India to operate flights between Tel Aviv and New Delhi over Saudi Arabia airspace when it is barred from flying over Saudi Arabia on its route between Tel Aviv and Mumbai. The petition was filed by Adv. Avigdor Klagsbald and Adv. Amir Shraga. The petition was filed against the Israeli government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Civil Aviation Authority, Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz and Air India.
The legal action follows the permission granted last week by Saudi Arabia for Air India to fly over that country thus cutting two hours off the flight time. This is the first time ever that Saudi Arabia has granted permission for a commercial aircraft to fly over its territory and land in Israel and as such has been hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough. Israel hopes that additional foreign airlines will be allowed to fly over Saudi Arabia to Israel - a development that would further discriminate against El Al and make it difficult for it to compete against its foreign rivals on Asian routes.
Among the main legal arguments raised by El Al in its petition, the Israeli carrier points out that in December 1994 when the company was privatized the conditions of the privatization stated that Israel's Civil Aviation Authority would guarantee "equal opportunities between Israeli companies and foreign companies on a competitive basis," as well as "encouraging healthy and fiar competition."
"Equal opportunities" and "fair competition" were again cited in El Al's prospectus in May 2003, on the basis of which the Israeli government sold the carrier to private investors.
El Al also demands that the Israeli government turn to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Saudi government and demand that El Al be allowed to fly over the kingdom.
El Al asks the court to issue an injunction against the State of Israel prohibiting it from allowing Air India to fly to Israel over Saudi Arabia while it is blocked from doing so.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 28, 2018
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