Saudi Arabia Flyovers Still on the Ground

An Emirati journalist awaits a flyDubai flight from Tel Aviv, Israel, at Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

Despite all the hoopla over ties with the UAE, including air travel, there is reason for concern about whether Saudi Arabia will grant flyover rights to Israeli carriers to and from Dubai, according to Globes on Sunday.

While the Saudis have authorized flydubai to operate in Saudi airspace, no such permission has yet come through for El Al, Israir or Arkia, all of which are set to start flights to the Emirates via Saudi Arabia next month.

Without permission, the flights are unlikely to go ahead at all, said Globes. Tel Aviv to Dubai takes only three and a half hours over Saudi airspace but seven hours, if required to circumnavigate the kingdom. This not only makes the fare of $300-350 impractical but is also too long a haul for the smaller aircraft operated by Israir and Arkia.

At stake are thousands of package holidays already sold to Israelis for travel to the UAE in December, which if cancelled would be a major setback for the industry, hoping for some lift after the devastating effects of the pandemic.

Nor would Israel be expected to revoke permission to flydubai to operate its Tel Aviv-Dubai route. Instead, Israeli tourists would likely switch to UAE low-cost airline flydubai would already began three daily flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai last week.

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