Saudi air traffic control guided an Israeli plane across its skies after it was forced to reroute due to bad weather on Tuesday night.
The Israir flight “was forced to make a detour into Saudi Arabia. Saudi air-traffic control assisted the plane the entire way,” the airline said in response to a reporter who noted the strange route that the plane took from Ben Gurion Airport to India.
The airline’s pilots Twitter account then posted a picture of the Saudi skyline that was taken from the detoured flight, and noted that “it was really very nice” of the Saudi air traffic controllers to guide them along.
Saudi Arabia is not among the countries to have normalized ties with Israel as a part of the Abraham Accords, but it did decide to open its airspace to all Israeli flights traveling east from the Jewish state.
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) November 9, 2020
זה באמת די נחמד :), בעקבות מז״א פעיל מטוס נאלץ לבצע עקיפה אל תוך סעודיה. הבקר הסעודי סייע למטוס לאורך כל הדרך. ובעתיד איתי, אם תתייג אותנו אולי תוכל גם להשיג תמונות בלעדיות מהעקיפה כמו לדוגמא: pic.twitter.com/fOpJgDq4qx
— IsrairPilots (@IsrairPilots) November 9, 2020
Israeli airlines had been at a significant disadvantage in the past, being forced to take a detour of several hours skirting the Gulf and Iran on flights to the Far East. Saudi Arabia last year allowed Air India flights to Israel to use their airspace, but not El Al flights on the same route.
Allowing the use of Saudi and Bahraini airspace makes direct flights between Tel Aviv and the United Arab Emirates viable by cutting flying time from some seven hours to only three and a half hours.
US President Donald Trump has predicted that Saudi Arabia will be among up to 10 further countries preparing to normalize their relations with Israel.