Air India cannot fly over Saudi Arabia, sources say

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After reports on Wednesday of a historic move that would allow an Indian airline to pass over Saudi Arabia in its flights to and from Israel, Saudi Arabian officials are now saying no such permission was ever granted.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel, and for 70 years no flights to Israel have been permitted to pass through the kingdom’s airspace.

However, airline Air India announced Wednesday it will begin three weekly direct flights to Israel and that passing through Saudi Arabia would shave down the flight time from seven hours to five. The flights will be between New Delhi and Tel Aviv beginning in March.

Israeli media sources began reporting Wednesday that Saudi Arabia granted permission for these passages. This would have been a historic decision, but it appears those reports didn’t come from a valid source.

A spokesman for the General Authority for Civil Aviation in Saudi Arabia told Al Arabiya television Wednesday that Air India was not, in fact, given permission to access the passageway.

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