Saudia (SV, Jeddah) has terminated a lease contract with Hi Fly (5K, Lisbon) after one of the Portuguese ACMI/charter specialist's A330-300s, CS-TMT (cn 96), was recently spotted in Tel Aviv Ben Gurion, Israel. The aircraft was still sporting the Saudi Arabian carrier's livery and logo when it landed in the Israeli city.

Israeli media reports state the A330 had arrived in Tel Aviv from Brussels National and was undergoing routine maintenance with Israel Aerospace Industries MRO wing Bedek as per their contract with Hi Fly.

However, according to Arab News, even though the aircraft was not operating a commercial service for Saudia at the time, the Saudis claimed the Portuguese had violated the terms of their contract by deploying the jet to a country with which Saudi Arabia has no official diplomatic ties.

“Such landing or operation process should take place in a country that shares diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enable Saudia staff and the Civil Aviation authority to conduct inspection and follow up on the maintenance operation at any time,” Arab News quoted Hi Fly’s contract with the Saudi carrier.

Though they reportedly maintain relatively warm relations unofficially, officially Saudi Arabia, as with the majority of Arab states, does not recognize Israel.

In the wake of the incident, it has since emerged that Hi Fly's A330-200 CS-TQW (cn 262), which was also on wet-lease to Saudia, was repositioned to Brussels as of May 10.