Bahrain Follows Saudi Lead with Decision on Airspace
Bahrain has followed Saudi Arabia in announcing that it is opening its airspace to all flights headed to or from the United Arab Emirates, also explaining the move as the result of a request from the UAE. While not saying so explicitly, the new policy is apparently aimed at shortening flights coming from or returning to Israel, with which the UAE is pursuing normalization under an agreement announced on August 13 at the White House. Last week, an El Al 737 became the first passenger plane to travel between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, with Saudi Arabia opening its airspace to that flight, as well as the one returning the next day to Tel Aviv. On Wednesday, Riyadh, perhaps as a way to elegantly explain the move, announced that all civilian aircraft heading to or from the UAE would be allowed to traverse the kingdom’s airspace. For flights originating in or returning to Tel Aviv, this means a travel time cut by more than half. Manama’s decision to follow suit can shave off a few more minutes. Like the UAE, Bahrain is said to be considering a normalization of ties with the Jewish state.