Oman follows Saudi Arabia in opening airspace to Israeli flights
Oman has followed Saudi Arabia in allowing Israeli airlines to use its airspace, despite the country's parliament voting to expand its Israel boycott law less than two months ago.
The sultanate's civil aviation authority published a statement on Twitter on Thursday stating that the country's airspace was "open for all carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflying".
The aviation authority said the move was part of its effort to fulfill its obligation under the 1944 Chicago convention "which stipulates non-discrimination between civil aircrafts used in international air navigation".
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen welcomed the announcement and said it was a "historic and significant decision for the Israeli economy and the Israeli traveller."
The move comes less than six months after Gulf neighbour Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to all carriers, and less than two months after Oman's lower house of parliament voted to expand its Israel boycott law.
Following the Saudi move last year, Israeli airlines were able to utilise the new airspace for flights to the United Arab Emirates, which Israel normalised relations with in 2020.
But Israeli airlines were unable to open a corridor for longer haul flights to fly over the kingdom until Oman followed suit, and therefore had to continue bypassing the Arabian Peninsula.
US President Joe Biden hailed the Saudi move in July last year as a "historic decision," and credited his administration with helping to bring the deal about.
Before the announcement, Saudi Arabia had barred overflights from both Israeli and non-Israeli companies that were travelling to or from Israel.
Israel's foreign ministry said on Thursday that the new corridor over both Saudi Arabia and Oman would shorten flight routes by over two hours to some destinations in Asia.
It will benefit Israeli airlines El Al and Arkia, which will now be able to offer more direct flights to places such as India, Thailand and Australia.
For example, flights to Mumbai are expected to be cut from seven and a half hours to only five hours, saving significant amounts of fuel in the process.
Saudi Arabia and Oman have held out from joining the 2020 Abraham Accords, which saw the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
Palestinians have denounced the normalisation deals, describing them as a "stab in the back".
In December, Oman's 86-member Shura Council passed a law tightening the economic blockade on Israel, in line with Arab League guidelines, making it illegal for its citizens to communicate or meet - for any purpose - with Israelis.
According to the official Waf news agency, Assembly Deputy Speaker Yaaqoub al-Harthi said the amendment proposed by lawmakers aimed to "expand the criminalisation and boycott of the Zionist entity".
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