The Air India flight took off from New Delhi and passed over Oman and Saudi airspace before landing in Tel Aviv.
A commercial airliner flying to Tel Aviv crossed through the skies of Saudi Arabia for the first time on Thursday, ending an era during which a direct route was impossible because of Middle East tensions.
Air India flight 139 took off from New Delhi and passed over Oman before traversing the border into Saudi airspace, according to a tracking map on the Flightradar24.com website. It landed in Tel Aviv shortly after 10 p.m., a seven-hour flight.
The flight comes 10 months after U.S. President Donald Trump flew directly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv aboard Air Force One in a demonstration of his intention to resolve the 70-year-old conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is on a three-week visit to the U.S. and met with Trump at the White House.
Flying between New Delhi and Tel Aviv ordinarily takes nine hours because planes are routed over the Arabian Sea, flying west over the Horn of Africa to avoid Saudi Arabia and north across the Red Sea to reach Israel. The Jewish state and the Saudi kingdom do not have diplomatic relations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to India in January that he expected Air India to clinch permission to overfly Saudi Arabia. El Al Israel Airlines is seeking to secure rights to fly over Saudi Arabia from the International Civil Aviation Organization, arguing that it is discriminatory to let Air India fly the route without the Israeli airline also being allowed. — Bloomberg