August 31 proved to be a Red Letter day for Aviation. Following a historic peace deal with United Arab Emirates, Israel saw national carrier EL AL operate its first flight, a Boeing 737 on Monday. Flight No LY-971 took off from Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv for Abu Dhabi.
The historic flight had on board a joint US-Israeli delegation led on the American side by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of US President Donald Trump.
Data from FlightRadar24.com, showed that the three hours and 13 minutes flight was delayed by about 30 minutes. The aircraft crossed Jordanian airspace and then entered Saudi airspace at the KIPAS Waypoint, on the border of the Amman and Jeddah Flight Information Regions (FIRs).
It then headed south-east towards Riyadh, passing close to the Saudi capital’s King Khalid International Airport before turning east and exiting the Jeddah FIR at the PEKEM Waypoint on the border of the UAE airspace.
To mark the significance of the fight, the word ‘Peace’ was painted on the plane’s cockpit in Arabic, English and Hebrew.
While this was is indeed a historic flight for EL AL, since March 2018, Saudi Arabia has allowed Air India to operate its flights to Tel Aviv using Saudi airspace. The Air India used its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on the Mumbai-Tel Aviv route overflying Saudi airspace at 40,000 feet for about three hours, coming within 60 km (37 miles) of the capital Riyadh before crossing over to Jordan and the occupied West Bank into Israel.
The Israeli airlines however, have had to take a long detour flying over the Red Sea.
The Jerusalem Post reported that those on the flight besides Jared Kushner, were US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, US Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz, US Iran envoy Brian Hook, an Israeli delegation led by National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and top Israeli officials in the areas of tourism, trade and energy.