DUBAI - Oman's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Thursday said the Gulf Arab state's airspace will be open for all civilian carriers, a move that would enable Israeli airlines to utilise a Saudi-Oman corridor to cut flight times to Asia.
Saudi Arabia, which like Oman does not have formal ties with Israel, last summer said it would open its airspace to all air carriers, but Israeli officials had said the corridor could not be implemented until Oman consented.
"Enforcing international and local requirements against discrimination in dealing with civilian aircraft, the Civil Aviation Authority confirms that the sultanate's airspace is open to all carriers that meet the requirements of overflying," the CAA said in a statement on Twitter.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Thursday thanked Oman's ruler Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said and described it as a "historic decision that will shorten the route to Asia, lower costs for Israelis and help Israeli airlines be more competitive".
Israeli flag carrier El Al said that beyond shortening current flight times, it would now examine opening new routes to Australia and restarting flights to India.
Opening Saudi airspace to flights to and from Israel was one focus of U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to the region last summer, as the United States and Israel sought to build on normalisation pacts between Israel and two Gulf Arab states.
Saudi Arabia has allowed airlines, including Israeli carriers, to fly over its territory on flights to and from the two countries.
The Saudi-Omani corridor would expand such flights to other destinations.
Israel's foreign ministry said the corridor would shorten the flight route by more than two hours to some Asian destinations.
(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah in Dubai and Dan Williams and Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Bernadette Baum)