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Qatar Airways

First ever Qatar Airways Flight to Israel takes an Unusual Route to Avoid Controversy

On a Saturday morning, a Qatar Airways-owned plane, apparently carrying top Qatari officials, landed in Tel Aviv. Notably, the flight did not take a direct route from Doha, which happened on purpose to avoid receiving recognition as the first direct flight from Qatar to Israel.

Qatar Executive owns the Gulfstream G650ER, a high-end private jet charter arm of Qatar Airways Group. This small aircraft, which can seat 13 people, two pilots, and a cabin crew member, is notable for its long range, with a range of 7,500 nautical miles.

The Qatari group began their journey by flying from Doha to Larnaca, Cyprus, for a technical stop. After a brief stop, they flew to Tel Aviv and landed at Ben Gurion Airport.

The flight from Doha to Cyprus took about three and a half hours, with a short 40-minute leg to Tel Aviv in between. After slightly over an hour in Israel, the plane returned to Larnaca before continuing on to Qatar.

The aim of this visit, which occurred during a cease-fire supported by Qatar, not immediately clarified by Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to Israeli media, the Qatari delegation came there to discuss the ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages.

This event builds on a historical precedent established in May 2020 when Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi operated a non-stop commercial aircraft to Tel Aviv, paving the path for UAE-Israel diplomatic relations established under the Abraham Accords.

Previously, flights between the UAE and Israel would usually include a stopover in a neutral country such as Cyprus.

During the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar made an exception for a few third-country registered planes.

Interestingly, on Qatar Airways flights, the in-flight maps do not include Israel, instead identifying the territory as Palestine.

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