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Air India announces direct flights to Israel over Saudi air space will begin next week

More direct route will cut two hours off the flight time

    Flight times between Israel and India will be dramatically shortened
    Flight times between Israel and India will be dramatically shortened (Photo: Getty Images)

    Direct flights between Israel and India using Saudi Arabian airspace will begin next Thursday, Air India has confirmed.

    The route will end a decades-old ban by the Saudi authorities on any flights landing or taking off from Israel.

    "The Air India flights to Israel will start from March 22. The flights will take around seven hours and five minutes, and fly over... Saudi airspace," Praveen Bhatnagar, a spokesman for Air India, told AFP.

    Flights between India and Israel currently take a route which skirts Saudi territory, flying over the Red Sea and around the Arabian peninsula until it reaches Yemen.

    Flying over Saudi Arabia reduces the flight time by around two hours.

    Air India's announcement means the airline will be at a competitive advantage over Israel's national carrier, El Al, which also operates direct flights from Tel Aviv to Delhi.

    Air India is one of two carriers that has recently flown directly between Israel and India
    Air India is one of two carriers that has recently flown directly between Israel and India (Photo: Getty Images)

    El Al is rumoured to also be seeking permission to fly in Saudi Arabian airspace but no official announcement has been made.

    This week's announcement came after closer ties between Israel and India resulted in a visit to Delhi by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January.

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