July 25, 2018 / 3:56 PM / 9 months ago

El Al withdraws high court appeal against flights via Saudi airspace

An Israeli flag is seen on the first of Israel's El Al Airlines order of 16 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets, as it lands at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - El Al on Wednesday said it had withdrawn its petition to Israel’s Supreme Court that sought to restrict any new flights to the country via Saudi airspace until it could also use the shortened route.

In a brief statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, El Al said its decision followed a hearing on the matter on July 18 but did not provide further details.

The flag carrier filed an appeal in March after Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel.

The historic Air India flight in March ended a 70-year flyover ban for jetliners en route to or from Israel, in what many have taken to be a sign of thawing ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Granting an Israeli airline access to its air space would, however, mark a dramatic diplomatic shift.

Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel and El Al must take a more circuitous path to avoid Saudi Arabia, which it says adds two hours to flight times and increases costs.

Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Ari Rabinovitch

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