Saudi Arabian Airlines on Thursday denied reports that one of its jets landed in Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport despite contrary claims by Israeli officials, the Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI) reported.
The airline claimed on its official Twitter account that “None of Saudi Arabian aircrafts [sic] landed in the airport mentioned in the viral tweets,” referring to Ben-Gurion Airport. “We are currently investigating whether any of the contracted companies violated their contract with Saudi Arabian Airlines.”
The company continued: “Contracts of leased aircrafts [sic] prevent them from landing or transiting in countries that do not have relations with the Saudi Kingdom.”
The airline issued the denial after David Dadonn, Israeli ambassador in the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East Department, tweeted on Wednesday a photo of what he said was a Saudi Arabian Airlines passenger jet taxiing on the tarmac at Ben Gurion. Dadonn said that the aircraft landed for technical repairs.
Other Israeli officials told The Jerusalem Post that a Saudi Airbus A330-300 landed in Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday night coming from Brussels. The plane was empty, according to the report, with only the crew on board, and belongs to a European company that is leasing it to Saudi Arabia.
The maintenance work was being conducted by the Bedek Aviation Company, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), officials said.
An IAI spokesperson told the Jerusalem Post, “IAI confirmed that the Airbus came to IAI facilities in order to have maintenance work done due to an agreement that IAI has with a European company that leases the plane to Saudi Arabia.”
Israel and Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic relations, though reports have indicated secret diplomatic and intelligence ties, especially following the Arab Spring uprisings and Iran expanding regional influence.