Qatari flights have now become much longer, since diplomatic sanction came into effect and Saudi airspace has been officially closed to all air traffic from the small Gulf monarchy.
On Monday, four Arab nations cut off ties with Qatar over its support for Islamist groups. Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced they would withdraw their diplomatic staff and also cut off transportation links with the nation.
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Since Tuesday morning, all flights from Qatar to North Africa – flights that would have usually gone through Saudi Arabia and Egypt – now have to take a northern route – over Iran and Turkey, adding on fuel costs. A flight to Tunis, 2,500 miles away on the regular route, now averages 2,900 miles over Iran and Turkey – a 16 percent increase. A previous flight to Beirut – 1,400 miles through Saudi airspace and then Sinai and the Mediterranean Sea, now has to circumvent from the north, adding some 200 miles.
Even flights to southern European cities – such as Athens and Rome, now run longer by several hundred miles.
Having the Saudi airspace closed might be new for Qataris, but Israelis are way too familiar with it. Flights from Tel Aviv to the Far East have to take northern or southern routes, avoiding the Gulf states, adding hours of flight for passengers, and spiking fuel costs for the airlines.
For instance, what could have been a direct 5.5 hour 2,500 mile flight from Tel Aviv to Mumbai, now takes around 8 hours, 3,500 miles, since the flight has to go all the way around to the south of the Arabian peninsula.
Last month, ahead of Trump's visit to Israel, it was revealed that the Gulf states were offering Israel partial normalization if the peace process with the Palestinians moved forward. That normalization deal would include allowing Israeli airlines to fly through the Gulf, saving much time and money.
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