El Al Sues Israeli Government To Stop New Air India Flight Over Saudi Arabia
El Al, the Israeli national airline, issued a petition to the country’s Supreme Court on Wednesday asking it to stop Air India’s new flight route between New Delhi and Tel Aviv.
The Air India flight is the first Israel-bound route that Saudi Arabia has allowed to use its airspace. El Al says that the new route, seen as a milestone in the increasingly-visible ties between the Jewish state and Gulf kingdoms, is unfair because they have not received the same permissions to fly over Saudi Arabia.
El AL claims that allowing Air India to fly in using that airspace when they cannot violates the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation, as well as promises that the Israeli government made to ensure “sound and fair competition” when El Al was privatized by the Israeli government in 1994.
“There can be no fair competition between an airline that can fly directly from destination to destination and an airline that is forced to use longer routes because of discrimination based on nationality,” spokesperson Ran Rahav said.
The airline is asking the Israeli government to get Saudi Arabia to also allow El Al flights. Failing that, they ask that Air India flights that overpass Saudi Arabia be banned.
“The idea of flights to or from Israel flying over Saudi Arabia is something that we welcome,” El Al vice president Michael Strassburger told the Times of Israel. “We also welcome any competition — as long as it’s fair competition. Now this [current] situation is something that we condemn. Because it’s competition, but it’s not equal, and we’re not able to compete in the way that we should be able to.”