Authorities in Saudi Arabia said Thursday that they did not allow a plane carrying 260 Iranian pilgrims into its airspace, stating that the flight did not have appropriate permissions. The rejection comes amid increasing tensions between the Sunni Saudi and Shiite Iran.
The passengers on board the plane had hoped to reach Saudi Arabia on Wednesday afternoon to perform the minor Umrah pilgrimage, according to the Associated Press. The permissions included, stating the type of the aircraft, the certificate of validity, along with other documents, to help ensure the safety of other passengers, a statement by the General Authority of Civil Aviation on the Saudi Press Agency said.
"The Authority applies the international rules that require a prior permission, and any violation be it by the Iranian airlines or any other airline, cannot be tolerated and the plane is barred from entering Saudi airspace," Khalid Al Khaibari, the spokesman for Saudi Public Authority for Civil Aviation, said, according to Gulf News Iran, adding: "Any airline that plans to fly a plane to another country must submit a request that is in line with international systems and standards."
Saudi Arabia is currently leading a coalition against Iran-backed Houthi rebels to return beleaguered Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.