Israel’s national airline, El Al, has asked the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to help obtain use of Saudi Arabia’s airspace on its Israel-India flights.
El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin asked Alexandre de Juniac, head of the world airline industry trade association, to intervene in order to prevent discrimination and “an uneven playing field,” according to Reuters.
“I am approaching you and kindly requesting IATA to intervene and to represent aviation industry’s interest by advocating equal overfly rights for all carriers over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and opposing any form of discrimination,” the letter said.
The IATA is comprised of 278 airlines from 117 nations. The letter from Usishkin asked for the Israeli airline not be “discriminated” against, compared with Air India.
In addition, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who enjoys a warm relationship with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was also asked by Usishkin for assistance.
Air India is slated to begin a new direct flight between Tel Aviv and New Delhi on March 6, one that passes through Saudi air space. El Al officials have been hoping Saudi Arabia would relax its historic ban on flights to and from Israel entering its airspace in light of the new agreement with Air India.
“We at El Al and at the other Israeli airlines hope that this agreement to fly over Saudi Arabia also applies to the Israeli airlines and not just the foreign ones,” El Al said in a statement.
“We don’t see a difference between the Israeli passengers of Israeli companies and the Israeli passengers of non-Israeli companies.”