Syria set to launch new airlines as army makes more advancements

Syria set to launch new airlines as army makes more advancements
Wed Mar 26, 2014 22:14:22

Syria is going to launch a new airline in May as the Syrian army is advancing in securing more areas in the country which has been suffering from an extensive foreign-charged insurgency for three years.

Esmail Sharaf, Vice Commercial Manager, told Reuters that Kinda Airlines will operate out of Damascus International airport and the coastal city of Latakia.

It aims to fly to more than 10 destinations within a year, including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq, and "hopefully Lebanon and Jordan".

The launch of Kinda Airlines, a private company, illustrates how the Syrian government has been able to secure the capital and areas of the Mediterranean coast.

Sharaf said the company had registered a Boeing 737-400 from Jordan Aviation and signed a contract for an Airbus 320 with Aeolus Air, a company registered in Gambia and with offices in the United Arab Emirates.

Sharaf said there had been a lot of demand for a second carrier other than the national airline Syrianair, which he said had flown out of Damascus throughout the conflict.

"Damascus (airport) has been very safe in the last six or seven months," he said in a telephone interview.

Kinda Airlines' debut flight was first scheduled for January. It was delayed until April 1 and again, Sharaf said, until May 1 due to "documents that are not ready and some paperwork inside Syria."

The startup has also had to deal with European Union, Arab League and US sanctions on Syria. Syrianair has had to ground planes in the past when it was unable to buy new parts for its fleet.

"(Sanctions are) making it very, very difficult. Hopefully we have passed through all these difficulties," Sharaf said.

Syrianair maintained a 40-year monopoly until 2008, when parliament approved the creation of Syrian Pearl Airways (SPA), a venture by Rami Makhlouf who is under sanctions.

SPA closed only a month after it launched when the Spanish company which leased its planes had to terminate contracts due to US sanctions.
Sharaf said Kinda Airlines' three main shareholders were all private Syrian citizens.


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