Wednesday, December 19, 2018 -
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Saving time and (air) space

Less is more. That’s the crux of the historic announcement this week that Air India’s Delhi-Tel Aviv route will now be allowed to fly over Saudi Arabian airspace.

According to the Times of India, the new route will launch March 22, cutting flight time by two hours over El Al’s Mumbai-Tel Aviv route. Why Air India but not El Al? The strong — yet clandestine — relations that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has carefully nurtured with Israel’s Arab neighbors over the past years.

While Israel and Saudi Arabia remain outward foes, covert relations tell a different story. While the national carriers of both Israel and Saudi Arabia do not fly in each other’s air space, the Saudis made room for India’s national carrier. The brilliance is in the details.

Not that El Al is taking this lying down. It appealed last week to the International Air Transport Assn. to intervene with Saudi Arabia. As well El Al should. After all, extra flying time means more fuel to burn, hence higher ticket prices. Not to mention, more time in the air. We hope El Al succeeds.

But for now we revel in this dramatic new step in Israel-Arab relations.

Air India’s new flight will take just seven hours, leaving Delhi at 4:50 p.m. and arriving at Ben Gurion at 8:25 p.m. Currently, the flight departs at 2:50 p.m. That’s a two-hour savings for the young Israelis who travel to India for their post-army decompression — as well as for myriad diplomats, tourists and business people who are all part of Israel and India’s burgeoning relationship.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set his gaze on the east and south. He has assiduously cultivated relations with Asian and sub-Saharan African countries. Business relations between Israel and these regions are thriving, and Tel Aviv’s tech boom is developing innovations for both less developed and more developed countries. These new relationships may turn out to be the most successful long-term accomplishment of Netan-yahu’s premiership, at least in international relations.

Air India’s flight will be on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Enjoy!

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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