Air India‘s direct flight service to Israel begins tomorrow

NEW DELHI: Heralding a new beginning in the people-to-people and diplomatic ties between India and Israel, the state-run will introduce a direct thrice a week flight from New Delhi to from tomorrow, with 50 per cent seats in the inaugural flight already booked.

The flight will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. While the inaugural flight will leave at 6.10 PM tomorrow, the scheduled departure will be 4.50 PM from March 25 when the summer schedule comes into operation.

“The response has been good so far and the inaugural flight has sold 50 per cent seats. The return flight has seen much better bookings with 80 per cent of the seats booked,” said an Air India official.

The state-run carrier will be operating its 256-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route.

Significantly, Saudi Arabia has permitted the airline to use its airspace, enabling it to take a shorter route, covering the distance in 7.25 hours as compared to the only other airline that flies between the two countries — Israel‘s national carrier El Al.

Many Arab and Islamic nations do not recognise Israel and, therefore, disallow airlines from using their airspace for flight services to that country.

Air India‘s Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Pradeep Kharola had earlier told PTI that the airline anticipates interest from travellers from countries further to the east of India such as Australia.

The Air India flight will fly over Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to reach Israel.

The permission to fly over Saudi Arabia will save Air India almost 2 hours and 10 minutes compared to the longer route taken by Israel‘s national carrier El Al, which has direct flights between Tel Aviv and Mumbai.

El Al takes a circuitous route over the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and then enters India and avoids countries that are on the direct flight path such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Air India is offering introductory return fares starting from Rs 35,500.

Get latest news & live updates on the go on your pc with . Download The for your device. in English and other languages.