Air India's direct flight service to Israel to begins

Air India privatisation Qatar Airways Indi Go may jointly bid for national carrier

On hand to greet the historic flight was Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz and Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have banned Qatari flights from using their airspace since the blockade against Doha began a year ago.

The flight will operate thrice-a-week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and will cover the distance in around seven hours - making it the fastest air- connectivity from India to Israel.

Air India launched its direct flight from New Delhi to Tel Aviv, flying over Saudi Arabian airspace and shortening flight time considerably from the circuitous route Israel's El-Al has been forced to take.

A Boeing 787 flight number AI139 of Indian national carrier Air India, from New Delhi, performs manoeuvres on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport on the outskirts of Tel Aviv after using for the first time Saudi airspace.

The flight approval comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described relations with the Arab world as the "best ever". "But to allow participation from domestic airlines - many of which have negative net worth - it has also been chose to allow them to bid provided they form a consortium that has a net worth of over Rs 5,000 crore", a senior government official told the newspaper.

An Air India cabin crew member allegedly slapped her junior colleague for serving non-vegetarian food to a vegetarian passenger on board a Frankfurt-bound flight from New Delhi.

It plans to take its own fight for access to Saudi airspace to the Supreme Court in Israel, officials said on Friday.

While Riyadh does not formally recognise Israel, Thursday night's touchdown by the Air India flight in Tel Aviv signalled a thawing of relations between the two countries which share a common enemy in Iran.

Meanwhile, yesterday Qatar Airways had also denied reports of its supposed joint bid for acquiring beleaguered Air India.

El Al now flies four times a week to the Indian city of Mumbai.

"A new era has begun", he said. Though Air India is saddled with huge debt (currently at Rs 51,890 crore), acquiring the airline can help boost the acquirer in terms of foot print, bilteral flying rights, parking slots, etc.

"That's what I think that this Saudi decision to allow the overflights consists of". It is still unknown whether Israeli airliners can use the airspace of the Gulf state or not.

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