The recent overflight agreement between Jordan and Israel, which allows for flights to cross both countries’ airspace, will result in shorter flight times, reduced fuel burn and an annual reduction of around 87,000 tonnes of CO2, based on the number of eligible departure airports, says IATA. Should the number of eligible airports increase and traffic returns to pre-Covid levels, the emissions reduction could more than double to 202,000 tonnes each year. In the past, airlines have flown around Israel when flying east/west operating over Middle East airspace but the new direct routing will on average cut 106 km eastbound and 118 km westbound on flights operating from the Gulf States and Asia to destinations in Europe and North America. The operational elements of the new agreement are being led by the civil aviation authorities of both Jordan and Israel, with support from IATA and air traffic management agency Eurocontrol.
Based on the number of eligible departure airports, the direct routing should result in a total saving of 155 days of flying time per year, increasing to around 403 days in the event more departure airports are deemed eligible and air traffic returns to previous levels.
“The connecting of the airspace between Jordan and Israel is welcome news for travellers, the environment and the aviation industry during these very difficult times,” said Muhammad Al Bakri, IATA’s Regional VP for Africa and the Middle East.
“The direct routing will cut return journey times for passengers by about 20 minutes and reduce CO2 emissions. Airlines will also save on fuel costs, which will help as they struggle to survive the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Direct flights between Israel and Jordan have taken place since peace accords were signed in 1994 but up till now they did not use each other’s airspace for flights to different destinations. Under the new agreement, Israeli and Jordanian flights can use each other’s airspace between 11pm and 6am local time during weekdays and during a longer window of 12 hours on weekends.
“The agreement will significantly cut flight times to Gulf countries, Asia and the Far East, leading to fuel savings and less pollution,” said a Jordanian government statement.
An Etihad Airways Boeing 787-10 flight on October 14 from Milan Malpensa to Abu Dhabi was the first regular passenger flight to cross Israeli airspace. Etihad, the national airline of the UAE, also became the first Gulf carrier to operate a commercial passenger flight to and from Israel. The Boeing 787 flight departed Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi on October 19 and returned on October 21. This followed a symbolic commercial flight by Israel’s national airline El Al between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi on August 31.
Boosting civil aviation is seen as an important part of the peace accords signed in September by Israel, Bahrain and the UAE, which was brokered by the United States, with the three countries agreeing to ensure regular and direct flights to promote relations. In September, Saudi Arabia allowed flights between Israel and the UAE to cross its airspace.
Image: Flightradar 24
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