Saudi Arabia might thwart the plans of Israeli airlines Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd., Arkia Airlines Ltd. and El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) to launch Tel Aviv - Dubai flights next month. Saudi Arabia has given the green light for flydubai to fly over its airspace but permission for the Israeli airlines is not yet forthcoming.
Without such permission, the flights are unlikely to go ahead at all. Tel Aviv to Dubai takes only three and a half hours over Saudi airspace but seven hours, if required to circumnavigate the kingdom. This not only makes the fare of $300-350 impractical but is also too long a haul for the smaller aircraft operated by Israir and Arkia.
Even though Israir is scheduled to begin operating two daily flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai from Tuesday, the Saudi authorities seem in no hurry to approve the flights by the Israeli carriers, if at all. Arkia is due to operate two daily flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai from Thursday and El Al is scheduled to launch two daily flights on the route from December 13.
Failure to receive permission from Saudi Arabia would be highly embarrassing for the Israeli airlines who have sold thousands of package holidays for Israelis in the UAE in December. Israeli tourists would likely switch to UAE low-cost airline flydubai would already began three daily flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai last week. It is thought unlikely that Israel will take away the right of flydubai to operate the route in the absence of permission from Saudi Arabia.
El Al would then face a similar situation to that existing on its route to India, whereby Air India, which has permission to fly over Saudi airspace, is able to fly a route that is three hours shorter than El Al's which is denied the right.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 29, 2020
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