Update: The flight has landed at Ben Gurion airport!
You can listen to a clip of the ATC audio below. The image is from the IAA of the Etihad plane on the ground in TLV, the first time a gulf carrier landed a plane in Israel with their livery. The Etihad pilot greets the Israeli traffic tower in TLV with “Shalom,” the tower responds welcoming the pilot to Israel and wishing him a pleasant stay along with clearance to land, and the pilot responds thanking the tower for all the greetings:
Etihad 9607 flew from the UAE to Israel via Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, and Cyprus rather than over Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Lebanon:
Here’s hoping we can fly Etihad commercially to Israel in the near future!
We hope that future ETIHAD flights landing here will be carrying #UAE tourists.
📷: Moni Shafir & IAA pic.twitter.com/j6KXjZRpV8
— Yuval Rotem 🇮🇱 (@Yuval_Rotem) June 9, 2020
Last month I wrote about the first flight between the UAE and Israel as Etihad brought COVID-19 aid for Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority rejected that aid, citing the Etihad flight to Israel. They didn’t want to help normalize Israeli relations with the Arab world and they weren’t given notification of the flight in advance.
But while the aid was rejected in the West Bank, apparently it did make its way to Gaza, which didn’t take that principled stand.
Now Etihad is pushing the envelope again.
It is currently flying a 787-9 Dreamliner (registration A6-BNA) from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv. But while last time the plane arrived white-washed without visible Etihad livery, this time Etihad is flying with their livery for all to see. It’s the first time a Persian Gulf airline will fly to Israel in its full colors.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that he was not made aware of today’s flight and only found out about it from the media, so we’ll likely see more PR in the media about the PA rejecting the aid.
Like last time, it appears that the plane will fly over Kuwait, Iraq, and Turkey in order to avoid flying over Saudi Arabian, Syrian, and Lebanese airspace.
It’s a sign of the warming relationships between Israel and their Arab neighbors in the region, as political alliances shift to fight back against Iran.
Etihad is no stranger to Israel. The IDF thwarted an ISIS attack on an Etihad A380 in 2017 from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.
The Jewish community and Chabad of the UAE is also starting to come out of the shadows as the country’s ties with Israel grow:
I’d love to see commercial flights between the UAE and Israel. Emirates and Etihad offer a level of service that’s offered by no airlines that fly to Israel.
Until then, there’s always the Avi Liberman method of flying to Israel on Etihad. Should we let him know you can also fly from Amman to Tel Aviv on Royal Jordanian? 😉
Do you think we’ll see commercial flights between the UAE and Israel anytime soon?