New Delhi– History has been made as the first direct flight took to the skies from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), arriving in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) just now. The El Al (LY) Boeing 737 that was carrying American and Israeli delegations landed at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) 15:38 local time.

The news of the flight is a sign of hope and peace for many, and marks the implementation of the US-brokered deal between the two countries. The deal, overlooked by the US, aims at normalizing relations between both Israel and UAE over years of dispute with each other.

The implementation of this deal also makes UAE the third country to recognize Israel, after Egypt and Jordan. It is the first ‘normalization’ in almost 20 years of political disagreements between the countries, and is being celebrated throughout the world.

Photo: Alan Lebeda

About the Flight

The flight is operated by Israel’s national carrier LY using a Boeing 737-900 (4X-EHD.) The outbound flight has been numbered LY971, representing the UAE’s international calling code, as a gesture of goodwill. The flight back to TLV has been numbered LY972, representing Israel’s international calling code.

The aircraft is named after Kiryat Gat – a Jewish settlement built on the remains of two ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages; Iraq al-Manshiyya and al-Faluja. It also features ‘Peace’ written in English, Arabic, and Hebrew over the port side cockpit window to mark this historic event.

Furthermore, the flight was also given special permission to overfly Saudi Arabia. Before this, Saudi Arabia did not allow any El Al flights to overfly its airspace. The move hints towards a much better future, and hope for El Al more flights to the Arabian peninsula.

The Deal

Unlike other countries, the UAE and Israel have never fought a war, and hope for much warmer relations between the two. “While this is a historic flight, we hope that this will start an even more historic journey for the Middle East and beyond,” said Jared Kushner, who is part of the American delegation.

Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel’s national security advisor and head of the Israeli delegation, expressed much excitement for this flight. “This morning the traditional greeting of ‘go in peace’ takes on a special significance for us,” said Mr. Ben Shabbat, adding emphasis on the trips purpose towards cooperation in areas such as tourism, medicine, technology and trade.

The visit comes after the announcement of Abraham Accord, in an attempt to extend a friendly hand to the UAE. As part of this deal, Israel will halt all annexation of Palestinian territories in exchange for diplomatic ties with UAE.

The flight is seen as a true ray of hope, in a world surrounded by harsh realities today. The move has been welcomed by people throughout the world and has surely got everyone excited. We would hope for a brighter future and wish both the countries the very best.

The first flight of the Boeing 737-900 on August 3, 2000. The aircraft type El AL used today for the historic flight. This model was replaced in 2005 with the 737-900ER. (Credits: Boeing)