Saudi Arabia opens its airspace to all airlines

Posted July 15, 2022, 9:26 amUpdated July 15, 2022 at 10:13

In an apparent gesture of goodwill to Israel and a few hours before US President Joe Biden’s arrival in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom announced through its civil aviation authority “to open the kingdom’s airspace to all airlines” that meet the legal overflight conditions. This decision was made to “consolidate the kingdom’s position as a global hub”.

Joe Biden will also travel directly from Tel Aviv to Jeddah (west). An unprecedented flight between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a country that does not officially recognize the Jewish state.

A “historic decision”

The Democratic president of the United States “welcomed the historic decision by Saudi Arabia’s leaders to open their airspace to all civilian airlines without discrimination”, including “flights to and from Israel”, stated, quoted in a press release, his national security adviser. Jake Sullivan sees it as the “result of perseverance” of Joe Biden’s diplomatic efforts.

Prior to his arrival in Israel on Wednesday, Washington had hinted that several Arab countries could forge ties with Israel, fueling speculation as to whether Saudi Arabia would be next. The Kingdom showed no resistance when the United Arab Emirates, its regional ally, recognized Israel in 2020, followed by Bahrain and Morocco, under the Abrahamic Treaty, which was mediated by the United States.

Shortly after the publication of the Abrahamic Agreement in 2020, Saudi Arabia allowed overflight of its territory by an Israeli plane en route to Abu Dhabi. And had announced that planes from the Emirates to “all countries” could fly over the kingdom.

Become a global hub

This notice de facto removes overflight restrictions for aircraft traveling to or leaving Israel. Israel has lobbied for overflight rights to shorten routes to Asia. The Israeli authorities also want Muslim pilgrims from Israel to be able to travel directly to Saudi Arabia.

In early May, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to become a global air transport hub and to triple its annual traffic to reach 330 million passengers by the end of the decade. Riyadh also plans to inject $ 100 billion into the sector by 2030, launch a new national airline and build a new “mega airport” in the capital Riyadh. However, analysts question the ability of Saudi companies to compete with other regional heavyweights, such as Emirates or Qatar Airways.

The reaction of the Jewish state

Israel welcomed a measure that would “strengthen” relations between the Jewish state and countries in the Middle East, its transport minister said.

In the process, the Israeli Prime Minister thanked US President Joe Biden for “long, intense and secret diplomatic negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the United States” for reaching this announcement. “And I would like to thank the Saudi leadership for opening their airspace. This is only a first step. We will continue to work, with the necessary caution, for the benefit of the economy, security and the good of Israel’s citizens,” Yair added. Lapid.


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