Embargo forcing Syrian Arab to look to Russian types: CEO

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David Kaminski-Morrow / Paris

Syrian Arab Airlines states that the US embargo on its home country is leaving it with little choice but to renew its fleet with Russian-built types, rather than pursue the acquisition of Airbus widebodies.
The Damascus-based flag-carrier had been intending to modernize its fleet of Boeing 727s and 747s with aircraft including Airbus A330s.
But speaking to ATI at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Paris today, Syrian Arab Airlines chief Nachaat Numir said that the airline views a Russian-based fleet renewal as a “serious option”.
Under the present plan the airline would take three Ilyushin Il-96-300s and four Tupolev Tu-204s through Ilyushin Finance Company.
“Unfortunately we’re stuck regarding a contract with Airbus because of the US embargo,” he says. “One of the options is Russian aircraft – the Russian Government is a friend to Syria, and is trying to provide Syria with new aircraft and financing.”
Syria’s transport minister has been invited to Moscow to discuss details, particularly about the financial arrangements.
Numir says that the situation is not ideal because the carrier already operates Airbus A320 family aircraft. He says: “There will be problems – we will have to prepare spare parts, ground equipment and crews.”
While a final decision has yet to be made, he adds, Syrian Arab Airlines needs to replace the ageing 727s and 747s shortly and that the political situation means it has “no choice” but to consider the Russian alternative.