Saudi skies are now open to flights to Israel

An Air India Boeing 787

Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official diplomatic ties, like much of the Arab world.

A day after India Air began selling tickets for seven-hour Tel Aviv-New Delhi flights, El Al announced that it has appealed to the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization, requesting that its India-bound planes be allowed to fly over Saudi Arabia.

But the historic animosity has given way to cautious, if often denied, cooperation based on a shared enmity towards Iran.

Israeli airline El Al has sent a letter to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), asking the United Nations body to influence Riyadh to allow it to reroute flights between Tel Aviv and India through Saudi airspace.

El Al believes that Air India's new route represents a precedent that provides foreign carriers with a major advantage and prevents equal and fair competition.

At present, El Al's Tel Aviv - Mumbai route offers travelers the only direct flights between Israel and India.

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Last week, El Al sought help over the issue from industry lobby group the International Air Transport Association.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, Netanyahu said Air India flights will fly over Saudi territory on its routes to and from Tel Aviv.

Israel and India have seen a surge in cooperation under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

- CNN's Oren Liebermann, Sugam Pokharel and Zahraa Alkhalisi contributed to this article.

The move is seen as a nod to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's influence in the region, who visited the occupied West Bank on February 10.

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