Even Amid War, Syrian Air Welcomes New Airbus

The Syrian Civil War has been ongoing for over 6 years now.  The Syrian Civil War has internally displaced over 7 million individuals since it began in 2011.  In addition to 7 million displaced, over 450,000 have been killed.  It’s unbelievably complicated and will take decades to really understand.

Last week, the United States re-entered the war when President Trump ordered air strikes against the Assad regime after the regime gassed hundreds in a rebel-controlled town.  The air strikes are just part of the United States’ on-going efforts to remove Assad from power and restore power to the Syrian people.

For years, the United States has had sanctions against Syria.  These sanctions restrict trade and business between the United States and Syria.  Additionally, most European countries have also placed sanctions on the Syrian government.  One of Syria’s last remaining trade partner is Russia.  Of course, Syria and Russia’s partnership has led to conflict between the West and Russia.

Because of the sanctions against the Syrian government and the overall chaotic state or the Syrian economy, air travel has been virtually non-existent for a decade.

Syria’s only airline, Syrian Air formerly known as Syrian Arab Airlines, is owned entirely by the Syrian government.  Syrian Air operates a very small fleet and serves a handful of destinations throughout the Middle East and Africa.  Syrian Air has been limited, not only by the gruesome civil war but also by it’s aging fleet and sanctions.  The airline has been unable to replace aircraft and expand its network due to these sanctions.  However, it appears that Syrian Air, even amid the civil war, is making an attempt to grow its network.

Syrian Air Acquires Airbus a340

Syrian Air is unable to lease aircraft from the United States and the European Union.  The majority of the world’s commercial aircraft are not only produced in the US and EU but also leased by firms in those two regions.  It’s because of the sanctions against Syrian Air that the airline has been virtually unable to acquire any new or used aircraft other than aging Russian aircraft and old Western aircraft from Iran.

According to FlightGlobal, Syrian Air managed to get passed these sanctions and recently acquired an Airbus a340-300.

Syrian Air's Airbus a340

Syrian Air’s Airbus a340 in Dubai (Image: Gokhan Sarigol)

Syrian Air’s Airbus a340-300 bears the registration YK-AZA.  The a340 is 16 years old and has flown for a variety or airlines.  YK-AZA first flew with Cathay Pacific where it was then transferred to SriLankan Airlines.  Recently, the aircraft was transferred to a leasing company in Kazakhstan where it was then transferred to Chad.  From there, it appears that Syrian Air leased the aircraft from the African nation of Chad.  This is all according to information gathered by FlightGlobal.

By leasing the aircraft from a company in Chad or Kazakhstan, Syrian Air would have been able to bypass the sanctions against the airline.

Syria is in Ruins, Why Does Syrian Air Need to Expand?

This is what I don’t understand.  Millions have been displaced and hundreds of thousands killed.  The Syrian economy is in ruins and there remain very few regions in the country that are stable.

With an economy that’s virtually non-existent, why would Syrian Air expand its route network?  I can’t answer that.  Syrian Air’s decision to acquire an Airbus a340-300, an aircraft that can fly 295 passengers over 6,000 miles, baffles me.

Regardless why they acquired the aircraft, the aircraft is flying regularly between Damascus and Dubai.  According to FlightGlobal, SyrianAir is eyeing flights to Asia.  YK-AZA features both business class and economy class.

Syrian Air's Airbus a340

Syrian Air’s Airbus a340 flying from Dubai to Damascus (Image: FlightRadar24)


This is a very strange development.  I can’t imagine there’s much demand from any country, except maybe Russia or Iran, to facilitate flights to Syria.  The Airbus a340-300 holds nearly 300 passengers and can fly over six thousands miles.  Syrian Air’s decision to acquire such a large and advanced aircraft seems unnecessary, to say the least.

What do you think about Syrian Air’s new Airbus a340-300?