New Delhi (Sputnik) — The world recorded a momentous first on Friday when an Air India flight traversed Saudi Arabian airspace before landing in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv. The development was hailed as a diplomatic victory for India as it was the first time Saudi Arabia had ever granted permission to any foreign aircraft to use its airspace on its way to Israel.
"This is really a historical moment. We are in a new era. I am sure that we will see many more Indian tourists coming to Israel, and Israelis would also come to India in much higher numbers," said Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, speaking to Indian news agency Press Trust of India on the occasion.
Other direct flights from India to Israel take a much longer route bypassing Saudi airspace and hence take at least two hours longer.
Indian minister for civil aviation, Suresh Prabhu tweeted it is a victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy.
A top Indian journalist and a few other netizens hailed it as an indication of a thaw in Saudi-Israeli relations.
Air India from Delhi to Tel Aviv is the 1st ever commercial flight to Israel over Saudi airspace. Significance isn’t just symbolic but strategic. Shows Ind-Saudi ties at a new level. Also confirms Saudi/Arab embrace of Israel https://t.co/B8HO3ylhKh— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) March 23, 2018
Saudi Arabia getting all the top billing in the new Air India flight because it is letting the airline use its air space to fly to and from Israel. But don't forget Oman. Flight also goes over Oman — also a first —& Jordan on the way to Tel Aviv.— Herb Keinon (@HerbKeinon) March 22, 2018
Renowned Jewish human rights activist Michael Dickson too expressed his happiness over the development.
In a first, an Israel-bound flight entered Saudi airspace: Air India's first flight on a new route to Tel Aviv made history by flying over Saudi Arabia— Michael Dickson (@michaeldickson) March 22, 2018
Indians saw it as a victory of the country's global political initiatives.
Air India’s first Delhi to Tel Aviv flight landed in Israel in seven hours, flying over Saudi Arabia. people who asked “what does modi knows about foreign policy” should be slapped left right and centre. pic.twitter.com/Hq9WCURhJS— अंकित जैन (@indiantweeter) March 23, 2018
#NarendraModiSaudi Arabia for the first time allowed its air space for flight to Israel only for Air India. Great going PM ji— Yogesh Gothe (@yogeshgothe) March 23, 2018