Air India is now selling tickets nonstop between Tel Aviv and Delhi. For the first time in Israel’s history, Saudi Arabia is permitting a commercial flight to/from Israel to fly over their airspace.
The flight will operate on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday in either direction on an Air India 787 Dreamliner.
Award space has not yet been loaded for the flight, but you will be able to redeem 22.5K United miles in coach or 35K United miles in business class for the Air India once that inventory is loaded.
For now though it seems that El Al will still have to avoid Saudi airspace. Israel may subsidize El Al’s extra fuel costs due to that, though that doesn’t address the flights that passengers will pick due to El Al’s longer flight times.
For example, this is how El Al has to fly from Tel Aviv to Mumbai:
By flying over Saudi Arabia, Air India will be able to shave several hours off of the route.
Or for example, an El Al flight nonstop from Tel Aviv to Bangkok is blocked at 10 hours and 50 minutes. That’s 5 minutes longer than a connecting flight from Tel Aviv to Bangkok via Amman!
That’s due to El Al’s 747 avoiding Saudi airspace:
While Royal Joradanian’s Dreamliner flies over it:
At any rate, it’s great to see Saudi Arabia-Israel begin to thaw. Hopefully one day the airspace will be open for all airlines to fly over, which will open all kinds of new nonstop flights to Israel.