An Etihad Airways flight chartered from the Italian city of Milan to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was the first in the Gulf nation to receive permission to fly over Israel and Jordan, significantly shortening travel time by one and a half hours. This was a milestone in aviation following the signing of the Abraham Accords between the Emirates and Israel under the auspices of the United States, which established stable diplomatic relations between the two Middle Eastern states.
Israel and Jordan initialled an agreement last Thursday to open more routes between the two countries and shorten flight times between the Gulf States, Asia and Europe and North America. Israeli airspace will now be used by a multitude of Arab countries, including Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as part of a new aviation understanding between Jerusalem and Amman.
Israeli air traffic control workers greeted the pilots, stating, “Captain, we are thrilled and honored to welcome you to overfly Israel. This is a historic moment we have all been waiting for. We hope it will inspire the whole region and mark the beginning of a new era, inshallah.” The pilot responded, “Inshallah, thank you, the honor is ours", in the words of the Times of Israel, as reported by the Ministry of Transport.
Israel normalized ties with the UAE in August as part of a U.S.-brokered deal, known as the Abraham Accords, and signed last month at the White House alongside Bahrain. This historic pact is designed to bring peace to the Middle East region and aims to open up to more Arab nations so that the Israeli state is fully recognised and historical regional disputes such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be put to rest.
According to ynetnews.com, Ben Gurion Airport is expected to open on Thursday at midnight for flights as the government is set to start lifting some of the restrictions of the coronavirus lockdown. Once open, travelers will be able to travel from Ben Gurion Airport to "green countries" [countries with low coronavirus infection rates] without entering isolation upon their return to Israel.
This year two Etihad flights landed in the country, also crossing Israeli airspace, but on that occasion it was with special permits, to bring aid for the Palestinians to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
The agreement between the two countries allowing their respective airlines to cross their airspace will modify their routes by reducing flight time to many destinations.
The next step, said the Hebrew minister of transport, Miri Reguev, will be to establish direct flights between the two nations, which could be delayed until next January owing to the confinement and measures restricting mobility and lower demand that exist owing to the pandemic.