Update: The first Israeli commercial plane to fly directly from Israel to the United Arab Emirates has landed in Abu Dhabi at 15:48 on 31 August, 2020.

According to FlightRadar24, Flight LY971 took 3 hours 17 minutes to reach Abu Dhabi from Tel Aviv, flying over Saudi Arabia airspace at 35,000 feet.

Flight Path of historic non-stop flights between Israel and UAE by EL AL on 31 August 2020
Flight Path of historic non-stop flights between Israel and UAE by EL AL on 31 August 2020

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Israeli and American officials are set to leave for Abu Dhabi, on a historic first El Al flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates that will fly over Saudi Arabia on Monday 31st August morning.

It will be the first-ever direct commercial flight from Israel to the UAE and the first Israeli airline to fly over Saudi airspace, a person familiar with the matter said.

The flight will take three hours and 13 minutes, the Israeli Airline Pilots Association said Sunday. The flight is being operated by a EL AL B737-900, registration 4X-EHD.

The plane designated for the flight has been adorned with the word โ€œpeaceโ€ in Arabic, Hebrew and English, in honour of the historic moment.

Among those expected to be on the flight are White House Special Adviser Jared Kushner, US National Security Advisor Robert Oโ€™Brien, US Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz, US Iran envoy Brian Hook, an Israeli delegation led by National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and top Israeli officials in the areas of tourism, trade and energy.

According to Jerusalem Post, The El Al B737-800 taking off from Tel Aviv on Monday for Abu Dhabi is equipped with a system to protect aircraft against aerial threats like ground-to-air missiles.

The Directed IR Countermeasures (DIRCM) manufactured by Elbit Systems defend aircraft by detecting, tracking and jamming incoming infrared threats like heat-seeking ground-to-air missiles and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, also known as man-portable air defence systems (MANPADs).

Earlier this week, we published an analysis on the normalisation of Israel and the UAE relationship and its impact to the Middle East Air Carriers.

Cover Photo by AFP