Update: Saudi Arabia announced that their airspace is now open to all flights!
Originally posted on 6/2:
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Israel and Saudi Arabia have come to terms on a deal that will allow Israeli airlines to fly in Saudi Arabian airspace to anywhere in the world.
Currently, that’s only allowed for flights to Bahrain and the UAE.
In exchange, Israel will allow two islands in the Straits of Tiran to be transferred from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and the multinational force that is currently there to be stationed in Egypt.
No word if there’s also a player to be named later in this 3 way trade. 😉
President Biden is expected to announce the deal on a trip to the Middle East later this month.
Israeli media has gotten this wrong before and the Jerusalem Post does post fake news on occasion, but if this deal pans out it’s a game changer for El Al and other Israeli airlines. It will allow them to compete on routes that are not currently feasible or are too costly to operate due to airspace restrictions. It will also shave travel time off of travel to some existing destinations.
For example, this is how El Al currently has to fly in order to avoid Saudi airspace when flying to Bangkok, adding significant travel time:
El Al network planners, start your engines!