Air India’s direct flight to Israel begins today

Air India's direct flight to Israel

NEW DELHI: The Air India will introduce a direct thrice a week flight from New Delhi to Tel Aviv from Thursday, said media reports.

The flight will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. While the inaugural flight will leave at 6.10 PM on Thursday, the scheduled departure will be at 4.50 PM from March 25 when the summer schedule comes into operation, said the reports.

“The response has been good so far and the inaugural flight has sold 50% seats. The return flight has seen much better bookings with 80% of the seats booked,” said an Air India official, according to media reports.

The state-run carrier will be operating its 256-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route.

Saudi Arabia has permitted the airline to use its airspace, enabling it to take a shorter route, covering the distance in 7.25 hours as compared to the only other airline that flies between the two countries — Israel’s national carrier El Al, said media reports.

Many Arab and Islamic nations do not recognise Israel and, therefore, disallow airlines from using their airspace for flight services to that country.

The Air India flight will fly over Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to reach Israel, said media reports.

The permission to fly over Saudi Arabia will save Air India almost 2 hours and 10 minutes compared to the longer route taken by Israel’s national carrier El Al, which has direct flights between Tel Aviv and Mumbai.

Air India is offering introductory return fares starting from Rs 35,500, said the reports.