Oman’s Civil Aviation Authority has announced the end of an effective ban on Israeli airlines in a change that will slash journey times for those flying east from Israel.
A tweet on February 23 stated that Oman’s airspace would be open to “all carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflying.”
As part of the Sultanate of Oman’s continuous efforts to fulfill its obligations under the Chicago Convention of 1944, the Civil Aviation Authority affirms that the Sultanate’s airspace is open for all carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflyuing. pic.twitter.com/jNaqqDxZM1— هيئة الطّيران المدني (@CAAOMN) February 23, 2023
The decision helps Oman come in line with the Chicago Convention of 1944, which requires “non-discrimination between civil aircrafts used in international air navigation.” It follows a similar move from Saudi Arabia last summer and means that Israel’s three airlines, El Al, Israir and Arkia will no longer be forced to avoid the two countries’ skies when flying east.
Previously Israeli carriers were obliged to take a lengthy detour over Jordan and the Red Sea when flying to India and Southeast Asia. The opening of Saudi airspace last year cut El Al journey times from Tel Aviv to Mumbai by over 30%, to just five hours and fifteen minutes.
Passengers can also look forward to shorter journeys to Asia according to Jonathan Sivarajah, an El Al frequent flier and Israeli aviation commentator, who told CNN that airtime could be cut by three hours.
For the airlines, he predicted “further opportunities not only to Asia but potentially to Australia, too.”
Until now, Israel’s aviation market has been skewed by international airlines who were able to offer cheaper and faster flights than the national carriers.
El Al, which has been working on a route from Tel Aviv to Melbourne since last year, responded to the announcement by posting a map comparing their before and after routes to Southeast Asia on Instagram. In a reflection of the détente, El Al is due to launch a shared loyalty scheme with UAE carrier Etihad Airways enabling frequent flyers to collect points across both airlines.
Thanking the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, for his “substantial help” in lifting the ban, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen branded it “a historic decision that will shorten the road to Asia, lower costs for Israeli citizens and help Israeli airlines to be more competitive.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would be “opening up to the east on an unprecedented scale,” calling the development “great news for Israeli aviation. The Far East is not so far away and the skies are no longer the limit.”