Air India is in the process of inaugurating a new Mumbai-Tel Aviv route, which is expected to be announced during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Israel, The Times of India reported Thursday.
The flight will take a circuitous route to avoid flying over countries that do not have relations with Israel, and will therefore take seven rather than five hours.
“Saudi Arabia does not allow planes to fly to Israel from over its airspace. So AI is drawing up a circuitous route to avoid overflying countries that have such restrictions for Israel-bound planes,” a source with knowledge of the expected announcement told the Times.
El Al, Israel’s national airline, currently operates a route between Tel Aviv and Mumbai, though its jets are barred from flying over several Islamic and Gulf countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates. El Al jets must therefore fly southwards over the Red Sea towards the Horn of Africa and then head east to Mumbai, lengthening the trip to eight hours. In contrast, Air India may overfly Saudi Arabia, though it would need to take a detour over the Red Sea so as not to fly directly into Israel. Its flights may therefore be a little shorter.
Some 35,000-40,000 Israelis visit India every year, often after completing their army service. Pavan Kapoor, India’s ambassador to Israel, announced last week that Modi is scheduled to arrive in Israel in 2017. He will be the first Indian prime minister to ever visit the Jewish state.
[Photo: Mark Harkin / YouTube ]