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Qatar Airways Plane Lands in Tel Aviv But Takes Unusual Route to Avoid Becoming the First Direct Flight Between Qatar and Israel

Qatar Airways Plane Lands in Tel Aviv But Takes Unusual Route to Avoid Becoming the First Direct Flight Between Qatar and Israel

a white airplane taking off

In a highly unusual move, a plane owned by Qatar Airways and said to be carrying senior Qatari officials landed in Tel Aviv on Saturday morning, although the plane deliberately didn’t fly direct from Doha to avoid becoming the first direct Qatari flight to Israel.

The aircraft was a small Gulfstream G650ER owned by Qatar Executive, the luxury private jet charter subsidiary of the Qatar Airways Group. The aircraft has the capacity to carry 13 passengers, along with two pilots and one member of cabin crew.

a computer screen shot of a map
Flight Radar 24

The G650ER has the range to fly 7,500 nautical miles non-stop and is able to take passengers from Doha to New York in just 13 hours but on Saturday morning, the Qatari delegation first flew from Doha to Larnaca in Cyrpus for a technical stop before continuing onto Tel Aviv.

According to flight tracking websites, the aircraft departed Doha at around 7 am for the three-and-a-half-hour flight to Cyrpus, where it remained on the ground for just over an hour before making the short 40-minute hop to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport.

The aircraft was only in Israel for little more than an hour before it departed, again heading to Larnca first before returning to Qatar.

Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately comment on the purpose of the visit, although it came on the second day of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which was brokered by the Qartaris.

Israeli media reported that a Qatari delegation was meeting with senior security officials in Israel to discuss the ongoing ceasefire and the release of further Israeli hostages.

In May 2020, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways operated the first non-stop commercial flight from the capital of the United Arab Emirates to Tel Aviv in order to deliver aid to the Palestinians.

The flight was a significant prelude to the start of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel, which came about through the Abraham Accords.

Until this milestone flight, previous flights between the UAE and Israel had involved a stopover in a neutral third country, like Cyprus.

Qatar made an exception for a small number of third-country registered planes during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The inflight map on Qatar Airways planes does not show the existence of Israel but simply denotes the area as Palestine.

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