For the first time ever, an worldwide airline can use Saudi airspace to fly to Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow Air India to use its airspace in flights to and from Israel in what could indicate a warming of ties.
"Air India will gain a significant and unfair advantage over El Al with respect to flights between Israel and India", CEO Gonen Usishkin said in the letter.
Air India spokesman Pravin Bhatnagar said the airline will start flying the route three times a week from March 22.
India's national carrier has secured permission to begin direct flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv that will pass through Saudi airspace, as reported by AP news agency on Wednesday.
The new Israel-India route was first announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Israel in July.
"It is for the them to decide on our request, but we haven't yet received any communication about it from the regulator". An Air India spokesman estimated the time savings would be about two hours, according to Reuters.
Jerusalem Post had reported that after his meeting with US President Donald Trump, Netanyahu said that Air India signed an agreement that day enabling the flights to and from Israel over Saudi Arabia.
For 70 years, Saudi airspace has remained closed to Israeli aircraft and to all flights bound for the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
El Al has asked the Israeli government and worldwide organizations to ensure that El Al will also be allowed to fly to India on the shorter route, or alternatively that Air India will be compelled to take the current route that El Al is permitted.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have never had official diplomatic relations, and interactions between their governments have taken place only through back channels.
- Correction: An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect title for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.