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Israeli Airline Appeals To Cancel Air India's Permission To Fly Over Saudi Arabia

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| March 30 , 2018 , 15:12 IST

Israel's El Al Airline has appealed to the Supreme Court to cancel the authorisation of direct Air India flights to Israel flying over Saudi airspace, media reported on Thursday.

In the past, Air India flights directed to Israel had been banned from travelling over Saudi airspace, but on February 8, Saudi Arabia lifted its ban. On March 22 the first direct Air India flight to Tel Aviv flew over Saudi Arabia, reducing travel time by more than 2 hours.

ALSO READ: After 70 Years, Saudi Arabia Grants India Airspace Approval For Flights To Israel

El Al Airlines claimed that after India, other nations could possibly be allowed to fly over Saudi airspace, damaging the prospects of El Al which is forced to navigate around Saudi and Iranian airspace, since Saudi Arabia does not all Israeli carriers to use its airspace.

"The State of Israel does not understand the extent of the damage caused by the government," said El Al chief executive Gonen Usishkin.

"Today it is India, tomorrow it will be Thailand and all the east. It is impossible to assess the damage caused by this decision for the company's 6,000 employees," said Usishkin.

Meanwhile, Israel's Transport Minister  Yisrael Katz hailed Air India flying over Saudi Arabia as 'historic'.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump have also favoured the ideal of a convergence of interests between Israel and Arab nations against Iran. Saudi Arabia approving the fly-over route for India has been interpreted by experts as a sign of possible rapprochement with Israel, with which Riyadh has no official diplomatic ties.