Oman opens airspace to all airlines
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Oman opens airspace to all airlines

Oman opens airspace to all airlines

The sultanate’s historic decision is expected to shorten flights to some Asian destinations by more than two hours

Oman, Israel

Oman’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that the Sultanate’s airspace will be open for all civilian carriers, a move that will also shorten Israeli airlines’ flight time to destinations in Asia after Saudi Arabia took a similar move last year.

“Enforcing international and local requirements against discrimination in dealing with civilian aircraft, the Civil Aviation Authority confirms that the sultanate’s airspace is open to all carriers that meet the requirements of overflying,” the CAA said in a statement on its Twitter page on Thursday.

The opening of Oman’s airspace comes after months of diplomatic efforts between the US, Oman and Israel. However, Oman and Saudi Arabia currently do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

The far East is not so far

Saudi Arabia opened up its airspace to all airlines in July 2022 and Oman’s historic decision is expected to shorten flights to some Asian destinations by more than two hours while opening up the possibility of Israeli carriers including El Al Israel Airlines (El Al), Israir and Arkia to expand deeper into the Southeast Asia market.

Beyond shortening current flight times, El Al said that the move would potentially allow the airline to explore new routes to Australia and restart flights to India from its hub at Ben Gurion International Airport.

“The approval will allow the company to shorten some of the flight routes to the Far East and will also allow the company to examine opening new routes such as Australia and even fly to India again,” the Israeli flag carrier said in a Facebook post.

Israel has normalised relations with some Middle Eastern countries over the past years including the signing of the Abraham Accords of 2020 with the UAE and Bahrain, paving the way for direct flights between Tel Aviv and the tourism hubs in the Gulf states.

Earlier in February, El Al and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said they would start a frequent flier partnership, which paved the way for Etihad Guest members to redeem their miles for travel with El Al.

A historic step

The move was welcomed in Israel as a historic and significant decision for the country’s economy and citizens who travel to distant destinations in Southeast Asia. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the decision. “This is a day of great news for Israeli aviation. Israel is effectively becoming the main transit point between Asia and Europe,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a video recording.

Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Eli Cohen also echoed similar sentiments, saying this is a historic decision that will shorten the flying time to Asia, lower costs for Israeli citizens and help Israeli airlines to be more competitive. “I thank the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tarik and our American friends for their substantial help in the success of the move,” said Cohen.

The opening of the Omani skies for all carriers was also hailed by the US. “This historic step completes a process begun last year, during President Biden’s visit to the Middle East region when Saudi Arabia similarly opened its airspace to all civilian planes,” the White House said in a statement.

Read: US President Joe Biden begins Middle East tour, meets Saudi Crown Prince

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