The first-ever commercial Gulf Air flight to Israel landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) this morning after a 2 hr 41 min flight from Bahrain International Airport (BAH). Onboard the Gulf Air Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner registration number A9C-FF were several Bahrani government officials eager for further talks following the establishment of formal ties in September.
￼The talks aim to continue work on a memorandum of understanding that the two countries signed last month in the Bahrain capital Manama. Topics of the discussions will include the opening of diplomatic missions, visa requirements, air travel, and hotel accommodation.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
Etihad now flies to Tel Aviv
In a move to show openness and friendship, the Gulf Air flight was given the flight number GF972, which references Israel’s international telephone country code. A couple of days earlier, fellow Gulf carrier Etihad announced that it would operate a daily scheduled flight between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. The return flight back to Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is timed to allow passengers to connect on Etihad flights Asia and Australia.
As the two countries look to broaden their cooperation in what Washington hopes will be an anti-Iranian alliance, both sides realize the massive economic value that friendly relations will bring. Bahrain has strong ties with the United States and is home to the US
navy’s Fifth Fleet.
The flight’s arrival was shown live on Israeli TV
Leading the Bahraini delegation was the country’s foreign minister and former secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdullatif Al-Zayani. The foreign minister was met by his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi, at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport in a ceremony that was broadcast live on Israeli television.
Al Zayani is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem later today. Onboard the flight with Al Zayani was President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy and Jared Kushner advisor Avi Berkowitz.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain’s agreement to recognize Israel goes against a long-standing Arab consensus that there would be no Israel recognition until the Jewish state reaches a peace deal with the Palestinians. Despite the new agreements, Gulf powerhouse Saudi Arabia has remained silent, but it did agree to let the Gulf Air jet fly through its airspace.
Meanwhile, the White House has said that more Arab countries are thinking about recognizing Israel. Nothing is likely to happen before President-elect Joe Biden takes office and establishes his administration’s policy towards Iran.
Gulf Air to have flights to Israel
Regarding Gulf Air, they are almost certainly likely to follow Etihad’s lead with non-stop flights to Tel Aviv from Manama, but it is unlikely they will put a Boeing 787-9 on such a short route.
According to the aviation website, Planespotters.net Gulf Air has a fleet of 31 aircraft with an average age of 6.1 years.
The Gulf Air fleet is made up of the following aircraft:
- 11 x Airbus A320-200s
- 6 x Airbus A320neos
- 6 x Airbus A321-200s
- 1 x Airbus A321neo
- 7 x Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners
Which of the above aircraft do you think that Gulf Air will use for flights to Israel? Please let us know what you think in the comments.