For the first time an aircraft of the Israeli national airline has flown over Sudan. Thanks to the opening of the airspace, El Al saves two hours on flights to South America.
The outbound flight followed the usual route. The El Al Dreamliner took off from Tel Aviv and then flew over the Peloponnesus, Calabria and Andalusia before turning southwest and heading for Latin America. After 16:30 hours of flight the special flight LY46 landed in Buenos Aires.
On the return flight the pilots of El Al took the Boeing 787-8 with registration 4X-ERA on a completely different route. They flew directly across the Atlantic to Africa and then to Israel. This saved two hours of flight time.
Sudan was off limits under dictator Omar al-Bashir
The El Al aircraft also crossed Sudan. And history was made. It was the first flight of an Israeli airline using the airspace of the African country.
Sudan does not recognize Israel. That’s why it has never allowed Israeli planes to fly over it. There had been negotiations for a long time to change this. But it was the fall of the long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir that brought the breakthrough. In February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the head of the Sudanese transitional government, Abdel-Fattah Burhan. At this meeting, the issue of overflight rights was also settled.
Many countries ban Israel
A short time later, the first Israeli aircraft flew over Sudan. However, at that time it was only a private business jet, whereas now it was a commercial aircraft for the first time. The possibility to fly over the African country shortens the way from El Al to South America considerably and thus helps to save costs. However, the airline however does not currently offer regular flights to the South American continent.
Detours are nothing unusual for El Al. Twenty countries continue to ban the Israeli airline from their skies: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. This causes El Al additional costs.