Saudi Arabia Opens Airspace for All Civil Air Carriers for Overflying
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Saudi Arabia is opening its airspace for all civil air carriers for overflying, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announced on Friday.
CNN reported on Wednesday citing people familiar with the matter that Saudi Arabia was planning to allow Muslims from Israel to take direct charter flights for the purposes of Islamic pilgrimage and to permit other flights to and from Israel. Riyadh's decision was planned amid US President Joe Biden's visit to the Middle East, including to Israel and Saudi Arabia, the source told the media, calling the move a "small symbol of the budding relations" between the two nations.
"The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announces the decision to open the Kingdom's airspace for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflying," GACA said in a statement on Twitter.
GACA noted that the decision comes as part of Riyadh's desire to fulfill its obligations under the Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944, which stipulates non-discrimination between civil aircraft used in international air navigation, as well as to complement the country's "efforts aimed at consolidating the Kingdom's position as a global hub connecting three continents and to enhance international air connectivity."
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said later on Friday that Biden welcomed and commended the opening of the Saudi airspace to all civilian air carriers, adding that it was the president's persistence and diplomacy that resulted in this step.
"President Biden welcomes and commends the historic decision by the leadership of Saudi Arabia to open Saudi airspace to all civilian carriers without discrimination, a decision that includes flights to and from Israel. This decision is the result of the President's persistent and principled diplomacy with Saudi Arabia over many months, culminating in his visit today," Sullivan said in a statement, published on the White House's website.
He added that the opening of airspace "paves the way for a more integrated, stable, and secure Middle East region," as well as contributes to "the security and prosperity of the United States" and to "the security and prosperity of Israel."
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