The Omani Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued a notice announcing that its airspace is now open to all airlines that meet its requirements, in line with its obligations under the Chicago Convention.
While the notice, which was posted on February 23, 2023, does not explicitly mention Israel, this is understood to be a public acknowledgement that overflights have been greenlighted by the Omani authorities.
According to Reuters, Israel’s foreign minister thanked Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said for opening Oman’s airspace to all carriers, including Israeli airlines. “It’s an historic and significant decision for the Israeli economy and the Israeli traveler,” Cohen said.’
The Abraham accords of 2020 between Israel and a number of countries in the Arab world brought a normalization of economic and political relations, but perhaps one of the areas in which this is mot state apparent is commercial aviation.
Airlines rushed to launch new routes as soon as it became politically feasible to do so, with the result that it is now possible to fly nonstop between Tel Aviv and several destinations that were previously out of bounds, such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Morocco.
Saudi Arabia is yet to establish diplomatic relations with Israel but has opened its airspace to Israeli airlines.
Until recently Israeli airlines could fly to destinations such as India or Thailand, two major destinations for Israeli tourists, but to do so they had to follow an extra-long routing, flying south first, along the whole of the Red Sea, before turning east over the Indian Ocean. This meant that Israeli aircraft had to invest several hours and many tons of additional fuel to reach destinations in Asia.
Although Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to Israeli airlines last year, one more obstacle remained: without access to Omani airspace, the shortest route towards the East remained unpracticable.
The other country on the south of the Arabian Peninsula, war-thorn Yemen, is not an option for the foreseeable future).
In July 2022, the CEO of El Al, Israel’s flag carrier, hinted at the possibility of the airline launching new routes to Asia and Australia in 2023. Tokyo and Melbourne are thought to be in the cards.