Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, has recently become the first airline to obtain overflight rights from Saudi Arabia’s government for its Tel Aviv service. The carrier can now enter Saudi airspace.

Further details

This news comes as Saudi Arabian aviation authorities announced the opening of the Kingdom’s airspace for all international carriers in July.

The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announced that the Kingdom’s airspace is now open to all airlines while discouraging discrimination between civil aircraft.

The move was a clear gesture of openness to not only the rest of the world but towards Israel. It will allow Saudi to enhance its international air connectivity too.

The national airline started using Saudi airspace on 3 August. Flight HM21 travelled from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to Seychelles International Airport and entered Jordan’s airspace before heading into Saudi territory.

Trendsetters?

While the change in policy regarding Saudi airspace was primarily a kind gesture towards Israel, Air Seychelles ended up being the first airline to actually make use of the change in a manner that would benefit the airline and the East African country.

Acting CEO of Air Seychelles, Sandy Benoiton, commented:

“The granting of this airspace is very significant for the airline. The fact that the flight can now fly in a more direct manner and a higher altitude also means a reduction in fuel burn between 500kg-1000kg per flight. In addition to this important environmental benefit, it means the aircraft can now carry an additional twenty passengers per flight and eliminates the payload restriction previously employed. This ultimately will have a positive impact on the number of Israelis implementing their dream of a holiday in Seychelles – rightly perceived as The Paradise on earth.”

Air Seychelles cabin crew
Air Seychelles cabin crew in the airline’s stunning blue attire. | © Air Seychelles

Obtaining overflight rights from the Saudi government will benefit Air Seychelles as Israel is one of their key destinations – it was in fact the carrier’s top international route last year.

The carrier, as of now, has three weekly services to Tel Aviv as well as a weekly flight from Malé, the capital of the Maldives.

Air Seychelles
The carrier is a part of the Vanilla Alliance, an airline alliance formed in September 15 with the aim to improve air connectivity within the Indian Ocean region by strengthening cooperation. | © Air Seychelles

Thanks to the newly acquired Saudi overflight rights, Air Seychelles will be able to save a significant amount of fuel (up to a ton) on flights to Tel Aviv. The carrier can also carry 20 more passengers on its 168-seat Airbus A320neos now that they have the freedom to abandon load restrictions. The carrier will be saving a decent amount of money as a pleasant consequence of the above changes.

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