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Oman opens airspace, joining Saudi in Israel airline corridor

February 23, 2023 at 1:42 pm

The passenger plane takes off at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

Oman’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), on Thursday, said the Gulf Arab state’s airspace will be open for all civilian carriers, a move that would enable Israeli airlines to utilise a Saudi-Oman corridor to cut flight times to Asia, Reuters reported.

Saudi Arabia which, like Oman, does not have formal ties with Israel, last summer said it would open its airspace to all air carriers, but Israeli officials had said the corridor could not be implemented until Oman consented.

“Enforcing international and local requirements against discrimination in dealing with civilian aircraft, the Civil Aviation Authority confirms that the Sultanate’s airspace is open to all carriers that meet the requirements of overflying,” the CAA said in a statement on Twitter.

Israeli Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, on Thursday thanked Oman’s ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said and described it as a “historic decision that will shorten the route to Asia, lower costs for Israelis and help Israeli airlines be more competitive”.

Israeli flag carrier, El Al, said that beyond shortening current flight times, it would now examine opening new routes to Australia and restarting flights to India.

Opening Saudi airspace to flights to and from Israel was one focus of US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region last summer, as the United States and Israel sought to build on normalisation pacts between Israel and the two Gulf Arab states.

The Saudi-Omani corridor would expand such flights to other destinations.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the corridor would shorten the flight route by more than two hours to some Asian destinations.

The step comes three months after the Omani Shura Council (Parliament) put forward a law stipulating harsher punishment for dealing with Israel.

Muscat has repeatedly affirmed its support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

On Wednesday, the Omani Foreign Ministry condemned the Israeli forces’ storming of the city of Nablus in the Occupied West Bank, which led to the killing of eleven Palestinians and the injury of more than 100 others in “violation of international law”.

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