The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has denied reports in the Israeli media claiming that it had granted Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) transit rights for its upcoming flights to Tel Aviv.

Citing officials in the Israeli flight industry, the Haaretz daily newspaper said on February 7 that the Indian carrier had been given the greenlight to use Saudi airspace for its 3x weekly Delhi Int'l-Tel Aviv Ben Gurion service due to launch in March.

However, the GACA later refuted the reports telling Al Wasat that no such rights had been granted.

El Al Israel Airlines (LY, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) is currently the only carrier active between Israel and India.

Owing to the Arab economic embargo against Israel, commercial flights bound for the Jewish state are barred from transiting Saudi and other Arab League member states' airspace.

As a result, any eastbound services from Israel to India and Southeast Asia are forced to use more circuitous, and therefore costly, flight routings which involve travel south down the Red Sea, through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and then east over the Gulf of Aden/Arabian Sea.