07 March, 2018
In January, Israeli daily Haaretz said that Saudi authorities had allowed the Indian flag carrier to hold direct flights to Israel through Saudi airspace for the first time.
Israel has no diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, which does not allow use of its airspace for flights to and from the Jewish state.
But an Air India spokesman denied the Prime Minister's comments several hours later, stressing they had not received any confirmation and had only submitted a request for a flight along that route.
Israel's Ministry of Tourism will approve a one-time grant of 750,000 euros to Air to launch the flight service, an official said in Jerusalem last month.
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"When Air India begins direct flights from New Delhi to Tel Aviv in the coming weeks, it will take about as long to fly to the Indian capital as it now takes to fly to London, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday", The Jerusalem Post said, quoting Netanyahu in its report datelined Washington.
Air India has not published when it would begin its flights to Tel Aviv, with media speculating they are due to start later in March. Currently, the flights fly south toward Ethiopia and then east to India to avoid Saudi airspace.
The new Israel-India route was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Israel in July.
El Al Israel Airlines, which flies four weekly flights to Mumbai, has also expressed an interest in flying over Saudi airspace in order to reduce flight time, Arutz Sheva reported.
But the decision also signifies warmer ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have been seen as having increasingly covert relations over the a year ago.