Air India’s newly announced flight to Tel Aviv has witnessed a “good response”, according to the airline’s CMD Pradeep Kharola. The national carrier announced recently that it will introduce thrice-a-week flight from Delhi to Tel Aviv from March 22. “The initial response for our Tel Aviv flight has been good. The interest from travellers has been encouraging,” Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Pradeep Kharola told PTI. He added that more than 10 per cent of the total seating capacity of the aircraft had been sold in the first 24 hours and he was expecting to see the flight operate on full capacity. The airline anticipates interest from travellers from countries further to the east of India such as Australia, Kharola explained.
Air India will be operating its 256-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft between Delhi and Tel Aviv after Saudi Arabia permitted the airline to use its airspace, enabling it to take a shorter route as compared to the only other airline that flies between the two countries — Israel’s national carrier El Al. Many Arab and Islamic nations do not recognise Israel and, therefore, disallow airlines from using their airspace for flight services to that country. The Air India flight will fly over Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to reach Israel.
The permission to fly over Saudi Arabia will save Air India almost 2 hours and 10 minutes compared to the longer route taken by Israel’s national carrier El Al, which has direct flights between Tel Aviv and Mumbai. El Al takes a circuitous route over the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and then enters India and avoids countries that are on the direct flight path such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Air India is offering introductory return fares starting from Rs 35,500. The flights will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.