Air India’s non-stop flight between New Delhi and Tel Aviv could likely spend more time in the skies if Israel’s top court acts on a plea filed by the country’s El Al airline.
El Al, in its appeal, argued that it was a victim of unfair competition as Air India reduces the flight time between the two cities by over two hours by flying over Saudi Arabia airspace. The middle east country had previously banned flights bound for Israel from entering its territory and barred Israeli airlines from using its airspace. El Al’s flights bound for India take a circuitous detour along the Red Sea and across the Arabian sea to avoid Iranian and Saudi airspace.
The Israeli airline reportedly sued the government, civil aviation authority Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, transport minister Yisrael Katz and Air India.
“The State of Israel does not understand the extent of the damage caused by the government,” El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin told AFP. “Today it is India, tomorrow it will be Thailand and all the east. It is impossible to assess the damage caused by this decision for the company’s 6,000 employees.”
The air link between India and Israel was announced last July by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. Air India began using the new flight path from March 22. The carrier’s flight from New Delhi to Tel Aviv currently takes a little over seven hours. The Israeli government recently hailed the nonstop service as “historic”.