1st Israeli flight overflies Saudi Arabia to non-Gulf destination

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JERUSALEM, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- An Israeli commercial flight flew over Saudi Arabia's airspace early on Tuesday en route to the island country of Seychelles, marking the first time that an Israeli flight to a non-Gulf destination has taken such a route.

Arkia Israeli Airlines flight IZ611 departed from Israel's Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv overnight between Monday and Tuesday and crossed over Jordanian and Saudi airspace, shortening the flight duration by 20 minutes.

"Tonight, an Arkia plane will become the first Israeli licensed plane to fly over Saudi Arabia -- not to Dubai, but to Seychelles," Arkia's chief pilot Din Gal said in a statement issued before the flight took off, adding the airliner hopes to see "soon" such shorter flights to India and Sri Lanka.

Oz Berlovich, chief executive officer of Arkia, told Army Radio that the "dramatic step" will reduce the price of flights to the East by at least 10 percent and shorten their duration by two and a half hours on average.

"The opening of the skies over Saudi Arabia is excellent news for passengers. It will bring a variety of flights to new destinations in the East in a shorter time and at more attractive prices," he said.

Since the signing of the 2020 Abraham Accords, in which the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain agreed to normalize ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia has allowed Israeli air carriers to overfly the kingdom to and from the UAE and Bahrain.

In July this year, following a visit to the region by U.S. President Joe Biden, Saudi Arabia announced that it will open its airspace to all commercial flights from Israel.

Israel and Saudi Arabia don't have official ties. Enditem

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