Tel Aviv: Air India’s maiden flight to Israel has landed in Tel Aviv, reducing the travel time substantially after Saudi Arabia for the first time allowed a commercial flight to use its airspace, indicating a thaw in relations between the Arab kingdom and the Jewish state.
Heralding a new beginning in the people-to-people contact and diplomatic ties between India and Israel, the state-run Air India introduced the direct thrice-a-week flight from New Delhi to Tel Aviv yesterday.
Saudi Arabia permitted the airline to use its airspace, enabling it to take a shorter route, covering the distance in 7.25 hours, about 2.10 hours less as compared to the only other airline that flies between the two countries — Israel’s national carrier El Al.
Flight AI 139 landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport at 2215 PM (Israeli time) yesterday, heralding a new chapter in the India-Israel ties and ending a decades-old overfly ban by Saudi Arabia.
“This is really a historical moment… We are in a new era. I am sure that we will see many more Indian tourists coming to Israel… and Israelis would also come to India in much higher numbers,” Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told PTI.