The White House praised Oman’s decision on Thursday to open its airspace to all civilian planes, including those from Israel, following a similar move from Saudi Arabia last year.
“This historic step completes a process begun last year, during President Biden’s visit to the Middle East region, when Saudi Arabia similarly opened its airspace to all civilian planes,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to Israeli flights last July, which Biden hailed at the time as an “important step towards building a more integrated and stable Middle East region.” Neither Saudi Arabia nor Oman has formal diplomatic ties with Israel.
While the opening of Saudi airspace was itself touted as “historic,” it was part of a larger effort to open an air corridor for Israeli planes, which required the cooperation of Oman.
“For the first time in history, passengers flying to and from Israel will now be able to travel on direct routes between Israel, Asia, and points in between,” Watson added on Thursday. “The United States was pleased to support these efforts through months of quiet diplomatic engagement.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen similarly touted the Omani announcement on Thursday, thanking the U.S. for its support in the process.
“This is a historic decision that will shorten the flying time to Asia, lower costs for Israeli citizens and help Israeli airlines to be more competitive,” Cohen said in a statement.