Israel's El Al appeals against Air India flights over Saudi Arabia

WION Web Team
Delhi, India Published: Mar 28, 2018, 05:34 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Israel's national airline El Al appealed to the Supreme Court on Wednesday to cancel the authorisation of direct Air India flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv via Saudi airspace fearing financial damage to it and view it as aerial discrimination.

Israel's national airline has filed a suit against Israel government, the Civil Aviation Authority, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the transportation minister, Yisrael Katz and Air India.

According to reports, the El Al has asked the court to either give a similar permit to them or prevent Air India from taking the shorter route.

El Al says it is the victim of unfair competition. News agency Reuters reported El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin saying, ''the State of Israel does not understand the extent of the damage caused by the government."

"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," he added.

Air India started using the new direct route from March 22 to Tel Aviv while crossing the Saudi Arabian airspace after Saudi Arabia granted permission in January.

The new route reduces the travel duration to two hours. Saudi Arabia had banned any commercial bound flight to cross its airspace but the Indian government brokered the "peace flight" amid tensions in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has so far not allowed Israeli carriers to use its airspace as the Saudi does not have any official diplomatic relations with Israel.

Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab nations which have relations with Isreal.

Israel's national carrier El Al currently operates from Mumbai takes a detour over the Red Sea to avoid flying over Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The new air link between Tel Aviv and New Delhi was announced in July last year by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, but it was not until January that the pair suggested it might use Saudi airspace.

Transport Minister Yisrael Katz described Air India's overflight of Saudi Arabia as "historic".

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