Last week, history was made when Saudi Arabia opened commercial airspace to Air India for a new route from New Delhi to Tel Aviv.
While this was an interesting development, (considering Saudi Arabia doesn’t recognize Israel as a country) one airline isn’t happy about the new arrangement.
El Al Airlines, the flag carrier of Israel “filed a lawsuit against the government for allowing Air India to fly over Saudi airspace on its New Delhi-Tel Aviv flights, a move El Al says puts it at an unfair disadvantage“, according to the Miami Herald.
El Al says that when they were privatized in the 1990s, the government said that they “encouraged fair and healthy competition” between foreign and Israeli airlines.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have no diplomatic relations but there’s been reports of (not so public) relations due to a mutual enemy- Iran.
So how does Air India flying over Saudi Arabia hurt El Al? By flying over Saudi Arabia on its New Delhi- Tel Aviv route, it makes the flight shorter and cheaper. El Al only has connecting flights. They’re also not allowed to fly over Saudi air space, thus creating the disadvantage.
El Al wants the Air India flights stopped until they too can fly over Saudi Arabia.
Find out more from the Miami Herald here.