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Saudi Air Authority Denies Allowing Israel Flight Across its Airspace

If it’s true, it’s historic. And if it’s true, others want it, too. “Too” is the ability to shave 2 ½ hours from the trip between Israel and India, a route to Mumbai presently being flown by the Israeli flag-carrier, El Al. Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation said on Wednesday there is no truth to the rumor that Air India has asked for permission to fly above Saudi Arabia en route from Tel Aviv to New Delhi. But local news organizations in the region are reporting on Thursday that it might very well happen. A spokesman for Air India and the Israel Airport Authority said on Wednesday that permission had been requested by Air India for three slots weekly at Ben Gurion and Israeli media – although citing no sources – is reporting that the Saudis have already green-lighted the Air India request. That, of course, triggered a chorus of “me too” at El Al. After all, under Israel’s open skies marketing to attract new carriers and new routes, the Israeli government will be paying a cash reward of about $1 million (750,000 euros) to India’s flag carrier while Israel’s own airline is a big loser in the mix. Politically, most pundits see Prime Minister Netanyahu as the big winner. The new route shows tangible results of his aggressive policy of lobbying Asian, African and Middle Eastern states, arguably lessening international isolation of the Jewish state.