From Oct 9, 2020, Israel and Jordan started allowing international flights to overfly their airspace. This new option significantly shortens the flight time for Israeli flights bound for the Far East as they can now go direct via Jordan/Saudi, rather than having to route up through Turkey and then across Iran.
It also shortens the flight times for aircraft routing between the Middle East and Europe. On average, they reckon the new routes save around 70-100nm and they forecast up to 200 flights a day to benefit from the new routing.
As per the current plan, overflights are only allowed at night on weekdays, and then all weekend from Thursday nights through to Sunday mornings. But who knows, if all goes well and there are no issues, this could get extended at some point in the future.
Eurocontrol have published this doc which basically tells you everything you need to know about the new policy. The full details are found in the link, but remember point RALNA (3155557N 0353233E) because this is the new point published in Israel airspace that flights will now route via.
Here are the useful little maps that Eurocontrol have created, to make all this easier to understand:
Israel’s LLLL/Tel Aviv FIR and Jordan’s OJAC/Amman FIR are now available for overflights and flights between the two countries on the following days/times:
SUN 21:00 – MON 04:00
MON 21:00 – TUE 04:00
TUE 21:00 – WED 04:00
WED 21:00 – THU 04:00
THU 21:00 – SUN 04:00
On 19 Nov 2020, Israel published AIC 7/20 listing the airports they will allow you to depart from if you want to fly to Israel, or overfly Israeli airspace. The important change from the previous version of this list is that it now includes OMDB/Dubai and OMAA/Abu Dhabi. If you want to operate anywhere else, you can request overflight permits 30 days in advance (if a commercial flight) or 10 days in advance if non-commercial. Jordan also requires overflight permits, which should be requested via an agent.
Important to note: the airspace agreement signed by Jordan and Israel permits both countries overflight rights in the airspace of the other, and extends that right to operators of third party nations in transit to other countries.
Saudi Arabia – the last piece of the puzzle
Israel overflights only really work if the next country you hit lets you overfly its airspace too. In this case, that country is Saudi Arabia, and they (along with Bahrain) have now said that flights can overfly their territory whatever their origin or destination.
How to get an Israel overflight permit
On 7th Jan 2021, ASOC published a very specific guide on how to do this, which you can download here.
Here’s a summary:
- You must be departing from one of the approved airports in AIC 7/20. Your destination airport doesn’t matter.
- Unlike for landing permits, you don’t need a ‘local sponsor’ – i.e. a contact person in Israel who can vouch for you. (For landing permits, this person must be Israeli, and personally acquainted with all passengers – not just a travel agent or hotel representative. They will be contacted by the security services before any approval is given).
- You must provide passport copies of the crew and passengers, who must be nationals of countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel. The same rule applies to the country your aircraft is registered in.
- Fill in the permit application form, and send it back to ASOC at email@example.com.
The next step is where it can get a bit confusing. Get ready for some jargon. Check out the full guidance on ASOC’s website, but here’s the lowdown on how it works and what to do:
1. ASOC will check your permit request, and if approved, will reply to you with a Pending Permission Notification.
2. The Captain must then call or log in to the ASOC website to submit an Entry Code. The Pending Permission Notification then becomes a Final Security Arrival Permit.
3. You’re good to go! On entering Israeli airspace, you’ve then got to follow the Arrival Identification Procedure. This bit is easier than it sounds – ATC will basically just ask for your Entry Code to approve you for entry. ASOC have published an example of how you can expect that conversation to go, plus what happens if they can’t hear you, or if your deets don’t match up to what they’ve got on file – in which case, expect to have to tell them your favorite color and your pet’s name (seriously).
More on the topic:
- More: Gulf routings set to ease up as Qatar blockade comes to an end
- More: Saudi-Yemen Airspace Update
- More: Africa: Hajj 2019 routes in operation
- More: Dubai to London – which way is best?
- More: Qatar airspace update – military jets intercepting civil flights