Saudi Arabia has granted permission for all flights between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to use its airspace, the state news agency has reported. The move significantly shortens the flying time between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi or Dubai.
Within minutes of the first report of the Saudi announcement by "Reuters," Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video clip welcoming the development.
Netanyahu said, "For years I have been working to open Israel's skies to the east. There was good news two and a half years ago when Air India received approval to fly directly to Israel. Now there is a huge new breakthrough - Israeli planes and aircraft from all countries can fly directly from Israel to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and back. This will make flights cheaper and it will shorten journeys and open up huge tourism opportunities and it will open up our economy."
He added, "It will do something else - it will open up the east. When you fly to Thailand or any other place in Asia it will shave off hours and cut the price. It is massive news for you, Israeli citizens. These are the fruits of peace and genuine peace. I want to thank Jared Kushner and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for their important contribution to this today. There will be a lot more good news."
This breakthrough is also important because it symbolizes the major Saudi involvement in the steps being taken by the UAE and lends support to the many hints being made about diplomatic developments and that more Arab countries will normalize their relations with Israel including Bahrain, Oman and perhaps even Saudi Arabia itself.
According to reports in the Gulf media, the opening of Saudi airspace to aircraft bound to and from Israel was discussed yesterday in Saudi Arabia where Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. After the meeting Bin Salman instructed his country's civil aviation authority to open its airspace to aircraft traveling to and from Israel. Direct fights are now expected to be launched between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The news has positive and negative implications for El Al, which when it resumes operations, can cut hours of its flights to the east. But it also means it will face fierce competition on its eastward routes from Emirates and Etihad Airways - two of the world's best airlines.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 2, 2020 © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020