Air India will soon begin shorter, direct flights from New Delhi to Tel Aviv, having just received permission to fly over Saudi Arabia, Israel Radio reported Wednesday.
Flying over Saudi Arabia will shorten flight time from 8 to 5 hours, and save on fuel costs. The move gives Air India an enormous advantage of Israel’s El Al, which is not allowed the same privilege from the Saudis. In addition, the Indian carrier should be able to charge less, due to lower costs.
The company plans to use its Boeing 787s for the Delhi-Ben Gurion International route.
Air India dropped its flights to Tel Aviv in the 1990s for economic reasons. Now it should be able to corner the market on flights to Israel, seeing as El Al still has to fly down the gulf of Eilat, round the Arab peninsula from the south and climb north to the subcontinent, taking about 8 hours.
Also, according to the Economic Times, citing an Israeli tourism ministry official, Air India will get a one-time grant of $930,000 from Israel for launching its direct flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv, paid out in three $310,000 installments over the first three weeks of operating the service.
Informed sources have told the ET that Indian Air could start its direct flights from New Delhi on March 20, flying on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Israel recently opened a tourism office in India, which has shown an increase of about 31% in the number of tourists from India last year, reaching an all time high figure of 60,000, according to the tourism ministry.