Israel’s flag carrier, El Al, will soon have access to Oman’s airspace. While this doesn’t immediately change anything for El Al, due to the politics of the area, it marks the start of huge changes for the country. The new permission was granted by the ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Despite having historic hostile relations with a number of Middle East countries, relations have slowly been rebuilding over the past few years. For example, Chad and Egypt have already given permission for El Al to use their airspace, while Sudan is expected to start allowing Israel to use their airspace.
Who Is El Al?
El Al is the flag carrier airline of Israel. Following its launch in 1948, it has grown to a fleet size of 44, while currently operating to 51 destinations. El Al operates with the slogan “It’s not just an airline. It’s Isreal”. In 1991, El Al set the record for the most passengers on a commercial aircraft when 1,122 passengers were flown to Israel as part of the Humanitarian Operation Solomon. As the majority of Israel’s population are Jewish, the airline only serves kosher meals in flight. The airline employs a total of 36,500, while its main base is at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel.
Permission To Operate In Oman
El Al’s permission to operate in Oman comes following a visit to the country by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Despite having no formal relations the surprise trip went ahead. Speaking to Israeli diplomats in Isreal on Monday, Mr Netanyahu said: “When I was in Oman, Sultan Qaboos [bin Said] confirmed to me right away that El Al can fly over Oman.” Before adding: “Soon we will fly to Mumbai… Tel Aviv-Mumbai is a shorter flight than Tel Aviv-London,”
Not Practical Yet
While gaining access to Oman’s airspace is a huge step, it won’t play a practical purpose just yet. The airspace separating Isreal and Oman is Saudi Arabian. Currently, El Al is not permitted to fly within Saudi Arabian Airspace. However, given Mr Netanyahu’s comment, this could change. Saudi Arabia recently granted Air India permission to fly through their airspace en route to Israel. With Israel and Saudi Arabia both US allies, before too long, they could be permitted access to the airspace. Speaking of the new agreements in place with Oman, an El Al Spokesperson said: “[El Al] welcomes the prime minister’s political activity to achieve every possible flight shortcut to and from Israel.”
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