1st Flight Heading to Israel Uses Saudi Airspace
A commercial flight heading to Israel crossed through Saudi Arabia’s airspace for the first time since the kingdom announced it would open its airspace to flights from all countries, including though not specifically mentioning Israel. The Cathay Pacific airline flight from Hong Kong entered Saudi airspace on Thursday around 1 am UTC on the way to Tel Aviv.
Saudi Arabia Civil Aviation Authority announced early on July 15 that it had decided “to open the kingdom’s airspace for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the authority for overflying.” This paved the way for US President Joe Biden to fly directly from Israel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia that same day.
Prior to the announcement, both Israeli airlines and other airlines traveling to or from Israel were barred from flying in Saudi airspace. The Israeli airlines El Al and Arkia have both requested permission from Riyadh to begin overflying Saudi Arabia.