Israel hails Saudi decision to open airspace to ‘all carriers’

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Israeli airlines had been banned by Saudi Arabia from flying over the kingdom’s airspace, making flights between Israel and Asia longer and costlier.

Israeli officials lauded on Friday Saudi Arabia’s decision to open its airspace to “all carriers,” including those from Israel, as a sign of the budding normalization process between the two countries.

Just ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit on Friday, the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation tweeted that the kingdom has decided to open its airspace “to all carriers that meet the authority’s requirements for overflying,” with no specific reference to Israel.

Israeli airlines had been banned by Saudi Arabia from flying over the kingdom’s airspace, making flights between Israel and Asia longer and costlier.

“This is only the first step. We will continue working with the necessary caution, for the sake of Israel’s economy, security and the good of our citizens,” Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement released by his office, voicing his appreciation for the Saudi decision to open airspace.

Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov thanked Saudi Arabia “for advancing a new vision of the Middle East,” tweeting that the decision will lower the price of flights to East Asia.

For Transport Minister Merav Michaeli, the decision also means “a step toward (Israeli) better and stronger relations with the countries of the Middle East … critical to Israel’s security and economy.”

Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej described the move as an “exciting dream,” noting Israel’s Muslim citizens will now enjoy “cheaper, direct chartered flights to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.”

Israel and Saudi Arabia have had no diplomatic relations yet, despite growing informal relations between the two erstwhile foes in recent years. (ANI/Xinhua)

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