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Israel’s El Al seeks IATA help to use Saudi airspace

March 2, 2018 at 10:11 am

Israeli carrier El Al airlines, 2 March 2018 [Pieter van Marion/Wikipedia]

The Israeli carrier El Al has asked the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to intervene with the Saudi authorities in order to allow it to use the Kingdom’s airspace for its flights to India.

“I am approaching you and kindly requesting IATA to intervene and to represent aviation industry’s interest by advocating equal overfly rights for all carriers over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and opposing any form of discrimination,” El Al’s newly appointed CEO, Gonen Usishkin wrote in a letter to IATA chairman, Alexandre de Juniac, the Israeli media reported yesterday.

El Al’s request came following reports that the Kingdom had accepted Air India’s request to use its airspace for flights from Tel Aviv to New Delhi.

El Al fears that this will create “unfair” competition by helping it offer much cheaper ticket prices and encourage other foreign carriers to ask for a similar permit which could cause financial damages to the Israeli airline.

Read: Saudi activist arrested after criticising ‘normalisation with Israel’

According to El Al, using the Saudi airspace will shorten the journey duration by three to four hours and save money.

Saudi has not allowed flights to Israel to travel through its airspace with officials, including US presidents, having to make stopovers in Amman before continuing their journey on to Tel Aviv.

Last year however, US President Donald Trump completed the first trip from the Kingdom directly to Tel Aviv.

The move was seen as confirmation of increased ties between the Gulf and the occupation state.