MIAMI – On October 14, 2020, a historic event took place above Israeli skies not since the state of Israel was born in 1948.

For the first time in history and after the diplomatic treaties brokered by the US were signed by Israel and the UAE, a flight from Etihad Airways (EY) crossed Israeli airspace.

Albeit, it was not the first EY flight crossing Israeli Airspace. Two humanitarian cargo flights operated by EY landed in Tel-Aviv a month ago to help the Palestinian population. Still, Wednesday’s flight was the first regular passenger commercial flight to cross the Tel-Aviv Airspace.

The ETD36V flight from Milano-Malpensa (MXP) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) is the first flight of an Emirati company to be authorized to cross from North-West to South-East on the N134 airway Tel-Aviv Airspace (LLLL Icao FIR Identifier).

Flight ETD36V crossing Tel Aviv FIR Photo: FlightRadar24 by Giacomo Robortaccio

The Flight, operated with a Boeing B787-10 Dreamliner, crossed the waypoint KEREN of the N134 airway at 15:22 UTC, establishing radio contact with Tel-Aviv controllers who authorized it to proceed to the exit point of the Israeli airspace, SALAM.

High Airway N134 from KEREN to SALAM Photo: SkyVector by Giacomo Robortaccio

Agreements between Jordanian and Israeli Authorities

The flight was the first to cross Tel-Aviv FIR (LLLL) as part of an aviation agreement signed last week between Israel and Jordan to allow airlines to fly over both countries’ territories en route to various destinations, thus reducing travel time.

Under the new agreement, Israeli and Jordanian flights can now use each other’s airspace during weekdays between 11 p.m. (2000 GMT) and 6 a.m. local time, and during a longer window of 12 hours on weekends, according to a statement issued by the ministry.

EY A350 Landing Photo: Clement Alloing

“A Tremendous Breakthrough”

Israeli Transport Minister Miri Regev said in the statement that the agreement will help Israel “become more integrated into the region. We are opening up new ways of cooperation in the fields of transportation and economy.”

Israel and Jordan signed peace accords in 1994. Direct flights between the two neighboring countries have been carried out for years but they did not use each other’s airspaces for flights to different destinations.

In September, Saudi Arabia declared it had opened its airspace to “all countries” flying to/from the UAE, a move hailed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “tremendous breakthrough” that paves the way for direct flights between Israel and the UAE.

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Great Joy at the First Call

At first contact, the Tel-Aviv FIR controller welcomed the Ethiad Airways Pilots as stated:

“Captain, we are thrilled and honored to welcome you to overfly Israel, This is a historic moment we have all been waiting for. We hope it will inspire the whole region and mark the beginning of a new era, inshallah (in Arabic: God willing).”

You can listen in the linked tweet below the live ATC transmission.

Bottom Line

Certainly, after the peace treaties mediated by the United States at the will of President Donald JR. Trump followed with the agreement of August 13 with the UAE and then with Saudi Arabia, the flight has greatly relaxed the political and diplomatic relations between the various countries in the Middle East, favoring economic and tourist benefits.

Obviously, this is only a starting point, but very optimistic for this 2020, a dire year for world aviation. Surely, there is still lots of work to do. Regardless, the good intentions are there for this “new normal” and for the skies above the Middle East to become stable.

Featured image: Ethiad Airways, Boeing