Mar 7, 9:26 AM EST

Air India gets OK to fly to Israel via Saudi airspace

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NEW DELHI (AP) -- India's national carrier has secured permission to begin direct flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv that will pass through Saudi airspace.

Air India spokesman Pravin Bhatnagar said Wednesday that the airline will start flying the route three times a week from March 22.

The move ends a decades-long ban by Saudi Arabia on the use of its airspace for flights to Israel.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have no formal diplomatic ties.

Currently, only Israeli carrier El Al has flights that connect Mumbai in India to Tel Aviv.

The Air India flights will save flying time because of their shorter route.

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