Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have opened their skies to transit flights from Israel and back, knocking down a major obstacle to global air traffic in yet another sign of detente in the Middle East.
“They agreed to open their airspace not just to flights from Israel to the United Arab Emirates and back, but to all eastward travel,” senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said Wednesday during a phone briefing.
Israel and the UAE are expected to sign next week in Washington a peace deal that includes an agreement to launch direct air travel between both countries. The first regular flight carried Israeli and American delegations from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi over Saudi Arabia, which has so far refrained from establishing formal relations with Israel.
Kushner said that the decision of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will greatly increase connectivity between various regions by “cutting down a lot of the travel time.” Saudis will be able to go to Europe faster by flying over Israel and Israelis will save hours traveling to Asia, and the people from Asia – when flying to Israel, he explained.