El Al Complains: Air India’s Saudi Route ‘Unfair’

An El Al flight takes off from Ben Gurion International Airport. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

El Al informed the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Thursday that it had formally requested permission to fly over Saudi Arabia on its India routes. The request was made to the Israeli government and to “international officials,” in the wake of the new routes Air India is set to use flying to and from Israel.

As a result of the permission granted by the Saudis to Air India to fly the route, the carrier now operates non-stop flights between Tel Aviv and New Delhi. The flights take five and a half hours in each direction. Currently, El Al operates flights direct to Mumbai, flying an indirect route over the Indian Ocean, with those flights significantly longer – over eight hours. Because the flight is shorter, Air India is charging less – about $600 round trip – than El Al is charging.

A report on Hadashot News said that El Al has complained that the Saudi decision constitutes “unfair competition,” and that it gives an extra advantage to Air India. The Israeli airline has formally requested permission to allow it to fly over Saudi Arabia on its India routes; if the Saudis refuse, the airline has requested that the government prevent Air India from using Saudi airspace, and require it to use the same route El Al uses.