Saudi Arabia announced on Friday, July 15 that it would open its airspace to: “all carriers”, in an apparent gesture of goodwill toward Israel, as US President Joe Biden is expected to do during the day in the kingdom in Jeddah. The announcement lifts de facto restrictions on flights to and from Israel.
The Saudi Civil Aviation Authority “announces its decision to open the kingdom’s airspace to all airlines” comply with regulatory flight conditions, she said in a statement on Twitter. She clarified that this decision was made to: “consolidate the kingdom’s position as a global hub”.
In a statement from security adviser Jake Sullivan, the president welcomed a decision ” historical and is pleased that Washington’s diplomatic work with Riyadh is bearing fruit. ” This decision paves the way for a more integrated, safer and more stable Middle East, which is vital for the United States and American citizens, as well as for Israel’s security and prosperity. Mr Sullivan sees “the result of perseverance” of Joe Biden’s diplomatic efforts.
The US president will fly direct from Israel to Riyadh on Friday, an unprecedented flight between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a country that does not officially recognize the Jewish state.
Riyadh aims to become a global hub
Ahead of Biden’s arrival in Israel on Wednesday, Washington had hinted that more Arab countries could forge ties with Israel, fueling speculation about whether Saudi Arabia would be next.
The kingdom showed no opposition when its regional ally, the United Arab Emirates, recognized Israel in 2020, followed by Bahrain and Morocco, under the United States-brokered Abraham Accords.
Still, analysts predict that Riyadh is unlikely to agree to formal ties with the Jewish state during Mr Biden’s visit, or while 86-year-old King Salman still reigns.
In early May, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to become a global air transport hub and triple its annual traffic to reach 330 million passengers by the end of the decade.
Ryad also plans to inject $100 billion into the sector by 2030, launch a new flag carrier and a new “great airport” in the capital. However, analysts question the ability of Saudi companies to compete with other regional heavyweights, such as Emirates or Qatar Airways.