The Kingdom of Bahrain will join the United Arab Emirates in normalizing relations with Israel. Will we soon see Gulf Air service to Tel Aviv and EL AL service to Manama? Is Oman Air next?
Israel – Bahrain Plan To Normalize Relations
As tensions between Israel and Arab states continue to thaw over mutual concern over Iran and a realization that the status quo has not resulted in progress for an independent Palestine, Israel and Bahrain will normalize relations.
Bahrain was widely expected to be the next Gulf nation to extend diplomatic recognition to Israel. The United States uses Bahrain as regional headquarters for the US Navy and Bahrain and Israel have been communicating for years, including a joint White House meeting in 2017.
The move, however, is still consequential considering it is highly unlikely Bahrain would have made the move without the support of Saudi Arabia. While Saudi Arabia has not extended diplomatic recognition itself, it recently announced intentions to allow Israeli flag carrier EL AL to use its airspace.
New Opportunity For Gulf Air in Israel (And EL AL)
Might we soon Gulf Air service to Tel Aviv and EL AL service to Manama? I absolutely expect we will see this at some point. However, with Israel implementing a second nationwide shutdown only yesterday, the return to leisure and business travel between neighbors is unlikely to occur anytime soon.
Both carriers have not commented on the new peace deal.
Is Oman Next?
Although Oman has not extended diplomatic recognition itself, it has applauded the recent move by Bahrain. While it couches such support in language supporting Palestinian statehood, word on the street is that Oman is next. At the very least, Oman plans to open its airspace to EL AL on UAE flights, just as Saudi Arabia did. We might soon see Oman Air flights to Tel Aviv as well.
The introduction of Emirates, Etihad, FlyDubai, Gulf Air, and Oman Air would mark a huge change to the landscape of Tel Aviv airport. As the dominoes begin to fall, expect that the gold livery of Gulf Air may soon be present at TLV.
Would you fly Gulf Air to Israel?