Air India is examining the possibility of operating flights from Mumbai to Tel Aviv as the carrier weighs various options amid issues of overflying rights, a senior airline official said.
Air India is examining the possibility of operating flights from Mumbai to Tel Aviv as the carrier weighs various options amid issues of overflying rights, a senior airline official said. While the flagship carrier has been expanding its international presence, efforts to restart services to Israel are yet to take off. There were plans to commence the flight to Tel Aviv earlier this year. In the last four years, the airline has started services to 14 international destinations, with the latest being direct flight from the national capital to Danish capital Copenhagen. According to the official, the flight to Tel Aviv could have been started earlier, but the route available as of now is very long. A flight of more than nine-hour long journey to the Israeli city from Delhi would make the operations “commercially unviable” since duration of a flight on a straight route to this destination would take only around five-and-a-half hours, the official told PTI. Against the backdrop of geopolitical issues, there are issues related to getting permission to overfly certain countries to reach Tel Aviv.
In case, Air India is not getting permission to fly over countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, other options will be looked at, the official said. “Instead of starting a flight from Delhi to Tel Aviv, we might start a flight from Mumbai to Tel Aviv, which would cut down the nine-and-a-half hour route to seven-and-a-half hour route,” the official noted. In March this year, Air India had announced that it would start flights to Israel in May with three weekly flights on the New Delhi-Tel Aviv route. However, the plan did not materialise.
Later, during a visit to Israel in July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said direct flights would be launched between Delhi, Mumbai and Tel Aviv to encourage people-to- people contacts. Currently, the Air India group flies to 44 overseas and 75 domestic destinations. The airline has flights to Tokyo, Washington, Stockholm, Sydney, Hong Kong, Kabul, Colombo, Seoul, Singapore, London and Madrid, among other foreign cities. To revive the loss-making national airline, the government is working on the modalities for strategic disinvestment of Air India.