For the first time, an Israeli commercial flight flew over Saudi airspace overnight Monday on its way to a non-Gulf destination.
A month after Saudi Arabia announced during President Joe Biden’s visit to the kingdom that it is opening its airspace to all commercial flights, an Arkia Airlines flight departed Ben-Gurion Airport after 1 a.m. and landed on the island country of Seychelles off the coast of East Africa six hours later.
The use of the Saudi airspace for the flight shortened the travel time to Seychelles by about 20 minutes. Flights to further destinations that will be significantly shortened by flying over Saudi airspaces, such as Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and China, are awaiting the approval of Oman for Israeli planes to fly over its airspace since these flights require flying over both Saudi and Oman airspace.
“Tonight, an Arkia plane will become the first Israeli licensed plane to fly over Saudi Arabia — not to Dubai, but to Seychelles,” Arkia’s head pilot Din Gal said prior to the flight. “The route will go through Jordan in the area of the Dead Sea and turn left to Petra, continuing along Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea shores. From there, it will continue on its regular route through Eritrea… We soon hope to see shorter flights to India and Sri Lanka.”