Sunday, May 07, 2017

AI’s Tel Aviv service delayed by denial of overflight rights

New Delhi: Air India has delayed the launch of its direct flight between New Delhi and Tel Aviv as several countries, including some in West Asia, have denied it overflight permission.

The airline had planned to launch the flight this month in the run-up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel, expected in July. It will be the first visit to Israel by an Indian Prime Minister.

Multiple officials confirmed to BusinessLine that the launch of the direct service has been delayed as the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, among others, have declined permission for the state-owned carrier to overfly their air space en route to Israel.

Globally, an airline seeks overflight permission from countries on the route so that the aircraft gets smooth hand-holding from air traffic controllers in these countries. However, the strains in relations between Israel and its West Asian neighbours appear to have impeded the launch of Air India’s service.

Flying over West Asia is the shortest route between India and Israel. Air India examined the possibility of operating its Tel Aviv service by flying over Europe, but that plan was dropped as it would have increased the flying time and skewed the economics of the flight.
07/05/17 Ashwini Phadnis/Business Line

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