Philippines, Saudis in talks to open Saudi airspace for flights to Israel

"We're pushing for the signing of the overfly agreement by this quarter, as Israel is a seasonal market."

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January 2, 2019 13:35
1 minute read.
Philippines, Saudis in talks to open Saudi airspace for flights to Israel

An aircraft of Philippines Airlines (PAL), the southeast asian nation's flag carrier, takeoff at a runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila March 14, 2016. (photo credit: ROMEO RANOCO/REUTERS)

 
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The Philippine government is working with Saudi Arabia to enable its flagship carrier Philippine Airlines to fly through Saudi airspace en route to Israel, local media reported on Wednesday.

“We’re pushing for the signing of the overfly agreement by this quarter, as Israel is a seasonal market. Most passengers would like to travel there during the cold months,” Philippines Transportation Undersecretary Manuel Tamayo said.

Israel and the Philippines signed an air services agreement in November 2013, enabling carriers to launch up to 21 weekly direct flights between the countries, but no flights have yet been allocated.

“We have rights already as far as Israel is concerned. Hopefully, we should get to overfly Saudi Arabia to Israel,” he said.

Tamayo said that securing Saudi Arabia overfly permits would enable airlines to cut down on travel time from Manila to Tel Aviv by at least an hour.

In March 2018, Air India become the first airline to receive permission to fly over Saudi Arabia to and from Israel, cutting down flying time on the Tel Aviv-New Delhi route from eight hours to approximately six-and-a-half.

Saudi authorities have not granted similar overfly permits to Israeli national carrier El Al, which operates four weekly flights to Mumbai.
In 2017, more than 22,000 Filipinos made Israel their vacation destination, with many traveling via Hong Kong and Turkey. According to the Tourism Ministry, some 90% of tourists who arrived from the Philippines between 2014 and 2017 were Christians.

In the other direction, approximately 17,500 Israelis traveled to the Philippines in 2017, according to the Philippine Department of Tourism.

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