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Israel plane crosses Saudi airspace to non-Gulf destination for the first time

In this photo illustration logo of “Arkia” is displayed on a mobile phone screen in front of a computer screen displaying "El Al Airlines" in Ankara, Turkiye on February 08, 2022. [Mehmet Ali Özcan - Anadolu Agency]
In this photo illustration logo of “Arkia” is displayed on a mobile phone screen in front of a computer screen displaying "El Al Airlines" in Ankara, Turkiye on February 08, 2022. [Mehmet Ali Özcan - Anadolu Agency]

An Israeli commercial flight flew over Saudi Arabia's airspace to a non-Persian Gulf destination for the first time, according to The Times of Israel.

The flight operated by the second-largest Israeli airline, Arkia, departed from Ben Gurion Airport yesterday and landed in the Republic of Seychelles, off the coast of East Africa.

Israeli media outlets reported that the new route shortened the duration of the flight by 20 minutes.

In a statement ahead of the flight, Arkia's chief pilot, Din Gal, said, "Tonight, an Arkia plane will become the first Israeli licensed plane to fly over Saudi Arabia – not to Dubai, but to the Seychelles."

"The route will go through Jordan in the area of the Dead Sea and turn left to Petra, continuing along Saudi Arabia's Red Sea shores. From there, it will continue on its regular route through Eritrea. We soon hope to see shorter flights to India and Sri Lanka."

It comes after Israeli airlines, El Al, Israir and Arkia, obtained Saudi approval last month to fly over its airspace.

Saudi Arabia will also allow other foreign companies to operate their flights to Israel via its airspace.

Following the decision, Saudi Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan, affirmed that "this does not mean diplomatic relations with Israel, nor does it mean any other steps."

Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel and has stated repeatedly that it will not normalise relations with Tel Aviv until the Palestinian issue is resolved.

READ: Saudi court jails Makkah imam for 10 years 

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IsraelMiddle EastNewsSaudi Arabia
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