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February 10, 2017 4:35 pm

With PM Modi Set to Visit Israel Later This Year, Air India Reportedly Planning to Renew Service on Mumbai-Tel Aviv Route

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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An Air India Boeing 787 landing at London Heathrow International Airport. Photo: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia Commons.

An Air India Boeing 787 landing at London Heathrow International Airport. Photo: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia Commons.

Air India is planning to renew service on the Mumbai-Tel Aviv route, the Times of India reported this week.

An announcement by the airline — India’s flag carrier — could come during an expected visit to Israel by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this year, the report said.

Air India previously flew to Israel, but discontinued service in 2001. The route is currently served by El Al.

The report noted that while flying time between Mumbai and Tel Aviv should be less than five hours, geopolitics will extend the Air India flight — for which Boeing 787s will be used — to seven hours.

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“Saudi Arabia does not allow planes to fly to Israel from over its airspace,” a source explained to the Times of India. “So AI [Air India] is drawing up a circuitous route to avoid overflying countries that have such restrictions for Israel-bound planes.”

El Al flies a path on the route that keeps planes in international airspace over the Arabian and Red Seas.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 1992 establishment of full diplomatic ties between Israel and India. The countries currently enjoy a burgeoning relationship, particularly in the defense field.

In November, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin traveled to India, just over a year after his Indian counterpart, President Pranab Mukherjee, visited Israel.

The subcontinent is a popular tourist destination for Israelis, particularly trekkers on post-army release getaways.

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