Saudi Arabia could open airspace for more Israel-bound planes

Saudi Arabia could open airspace for more Israel-bound planes
In March, Air India launched the first scheduled service to Israel to be allowed to cross Saudi airspace, overturning a 70-year-old ban by Riyadh on such routes.

2 min read
03 January, 2019
Israel-bound planes already fly over Saudi Arabia [AFP]

The Philippines is in talks with Saudi Arabia to allow Israel-bound flights to use the kingdom's airspace, aviation officials in Manila have said, amid signs of increased Saudi-Israeli collaboration.

If Riyadh approves, the Philippine Airlines could launch direct flights to Tel Aviv within six months, airline president Jaime Bautista told reporers on Wednesday.

In March, Air India launched the first service to Israel to be allowed to cross Saudi airspace, with Riyadh overturning a 70-year-old ban on such routes.

Worth noting that Riyadh currently bans neighbouring Arab state Qatar from using Saudi airspace for civilian flights, after a Saudi-led bloc imposed a blockade on Doha in June 2017.

The reports come amid growing signs of Israeli-Saudi rapprochement, although Israeli airlines are yet to be granted such rights.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has recently described relations with Gulf Arab states and Egypt as the "best ever", with common concerns over Iran drawing them closer together.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official diplomatic relations, like much of the Arab world. Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries with peace treaties with Israel.

Israeli planes are currently forced to avoid the kingdom, but national carrier El Al has asked the International Air Transport Association to help it gain access to Saudi airspace.

Last week, Oman granted El Al permission to use its airspace.

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