Oman announced that it is opening its skies to Israeli aircraft on Thursday, opening up new and faster aviation routes between Israel and the Far East.
“As part of the Sultanate of Oman’s continuous efforts to fulfill its obligations under the Chicago Convention of 1944, the Civil Aviation Authority affirms that the Sultanate’s airspace is open for all carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflying,” Oman’s Civil Aviation Authority said on Twitter on Thursday.
Oman’s announcement did not indicate any reason for its timing.
As part of the Sultanate of Oman’s continuous efforts to fulfill its obligations under the Chicago Convention of 1944, the Civil Aviation Authority affirms that the Sultanate’s airspace is open for all carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflyuing. pic.twitter.com/jNaqqDxZM1
— هيئة الطّيران المدني (@CAAOMN) February 23, 2023
Saudi Arabia began permitting Israeli overflights in August, but direct routes to destinations in India and China still have to overfly Oman. The Omani overflights are expected to shave as much as two hours off flight times.
Israel does not have formal diplomatic relations with Oman or Saudi Arabia.
In 1996, Israel and Oman signed an agreement to open reciprocal trade representative offices. Relations were frozen in 2000 with the outbreak of the Second Intifada. Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said hosted Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu in 1994, 1996 and 2018 respectively.
Efforts to advance Israeli-Omani relations suffered a setback when Sultan Qaboos died in 2020. Israelis hoped he would join the Abraham Accords.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen called the move, “A historic decision that will shorten the road to Asia, lower costs for Israeli citizens and help Israeli airlines to be more competitive. I thank the Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tarek Al Said and our American friends for their substantial help in the success of the move.”
PM Benjamin Netanyahu said, “The Far East is not so far away and the skies are no longer the limit. This is a day of great news for Israeli aviation. Israel has, in effect, become the main transit point between Asia and Europe.”
“We have worked to open the airspace, first over Saudi Arabia, and from 2018 when I visited Oman, to add Oman as well so that we can fly directly to India and on to Australia.
“This was achieved today, after considerable effort, including in recent months. Here is good news – Israel is opening up to the east on an unprecedented scale.”