Update, 9/2: This report from 2 weeks ago has now been confirmed. Saudi Arabia will allow all airliners headed to or from the UAE to fly over their airspace! This is the first time Israeli airliners have received permission to overfly Saudi Arabia for scheduled commercial flights.
Hopefully the Saudi airspace will open for flights from Israel to more destinations, and we’ll see flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia in the future!
Originally posted on 8/18:
I noted then that Etihad’s 2 humanitarian flights to Israel “had to fly via Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, and Cyprus rather than over Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Lebanon, but hopefully they will be able to overfly Saudi Arabia as part of these agreements.”
And now aviation blogger Alex Macheras reports that Saudi Arabia has granted that permission!
A nonstop flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi or Dubai over Saudi airspace should take just 3 hours in the air.
Breaking: Saudi Arabia to allow UAE-Israel flights (such as Dubai-Tel Aviv) to overfly Saudi airspace
With Saudi airspace access, flights between Dubai/Abu Dhabi – Tel Aviv could begin as soon as this year, in what is considered an unprecedented development for the region ✈️ pic.twitter.com/Mgs1jFixzV
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) August 18, 2020
Alex and I were guests of an airline in Toulouse last year as they were selecting business class seats for their A330neo. He’s in the co-pilot seat for this takeoff and for this landing in the A330 full motion simulator that Airbus treated us to. He also reports that we may see flights this year!
He certainly has lots of sources in the industry, so this seems newsworthy to me.
Currently Saudi Arabia only allows Air India to fly to Israel over their airspace.
It’s unclear if this permission will only be granted to Emirates and Etihad or if it will also apply to Israeli airlines. Israir is working with a UAE businessman to operate nonstop flights over Saudi airspace as well.
Israel has invited UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed to visit Jerusalem. Hopefully this will usher in a new era of peace and official relationships with Israel throughout the Middle East!
Thanks to this agreement, Israel is now working with countries like Bahrain, Morocco, Oman, and Sudan for normalized relationships. If all goes well, Saudi Arabia may not be far behind!
Flying from the US to Israel via Emirates or Etihad will add a good amount of time onto an already long flight to Israel, but you can also stopover in the UAE to break up the trip. They also have great airfare sales, which should help lower the cost to fly to Israel. Plus, they both have shower class 😀
For passengers flying to points east, Emirates and Etihad will be an outstanding option, though that is more bad news for El Al.
Will you fly on Emirates or Etihad to Israel? Which airline do you think will start flying to Israel first?