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Air India’s new flight to Israel faces route hurdle over Pakistan, Afghanistan

Isarel has expressed reservations about the flight route going over Pakistan and Afghanistan as the country faces restriction in West Asia.

india Updated: Jul 18, 2017 09:40 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Air India,New Delhi,Tel Aviv
Air India is launching the New Delhi-Tel Aviv flight to cash in on the many Israelis who come to India to vacation after their compulsory military training. (HT File Photo)

Air India’s plan to start a direct flight from Delhi to Israel has hit a ‘route block’ as Israel authorities have reservations on plane flying over Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The shortest route proposed by Air India is six-and-a-half hours long and if Air India has to avoid Pakistan and Afghanistan, the journey would be nine hours long and also cost Rs 20 lakh in excess.

Air India had planned to start the service on May 12 but it is unlikely to get a go ahead before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel later this month.

“We have aircraft and slot available but route is the issue. The flight of Israeli airlines El Al to Tel Aviv from Mumbai take eight hours as they avoid entire Gulf and Pakistan and Afghanistan. That route is not economically viable to us. If we taken that route, we will have to keep the fare on the higher side,” said an Air India official.

Flights from Israel face restrictions in the West Asia region

Air India plans to fly a Boeing 787 and will have to start ticket booking a month in advance.

“Of the three routes proposed by us, only one avoids Pakistan and Afghanistan. But it flies over Oman, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates. We are yet to receive approval from Israel, following which we will have to apply for overfly permission to that country,” the official added.

Air India’s suggested New Delhi-Tel Aviv routes
  • Route 1 – 6 hours 30 minutes: Pakistan, Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Route 2 – 7 hours 10 minutes: Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Route 3 – 7 hours: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Cyprus

Sources said that Israel security agency do not want the plane to fly over Pakistan and Afghanistan; in case of an emergency, the plane will have to be diverted in these two countries.

The flight service targets tourists from Israel who visit India every year.

Air India’s Airbus A310 planes flew directly to Israel from Delhi until mid-1990s and Mumbai until early 2000 after which the flights were withdrawn for commercial reasons.

Israeli tourists come to Goa’s beaches and the Manali hills via Delhi during a break that follows compulsory military training in Israel.

First Published: Jun 27, 2017 22:49 IST