(MENAFN) Air India has denied the claim by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Saudi Arabia has granted permission to the carrier to fly over its airspace during flights to the Zionist state. Netanyahu made his comment to journalists in Washington on Monday.
"The Indian airline signed an agreement on Monday to travel to Israel over Saudi Arabia," he said. Flights to and from India will take the same time as flights between London and Tel Aviv, some five and a half hours, he pointed out.
"We have not received any confirmation from the Saudi authorities," countered Air India spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar on Tuesday. "We only sent a request for a flight but we have not received any response from the Saudi authorities."
He noted that it is possible that an agreement has been made with another Indian company, and that Air India is not aware of this. " "I hope that the Saudi authorities will approve our request," the spokesman added.
El Al Israel Airlines, the country's flag carrier, flies four weekly flights to Mumbai. These take seven hours as they fly south toward Ethiopia and then east to India, avoiding Saudi airspace. Israel media have said that Saudi over-flight routes could reduce travel time by more than two hours.
As other Arab nations, Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel but lifting a 70-year-old airspace ban reflects the normalization with the Zionist entity, those two mentioned parties are strong allies for the US in the region.
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