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Syrian Arab A350s blocked by US sanctions: embassy cable

Syrian Arab Airlines had been in line to receive Airbus A350s as part of a broad fleet renewal covering 50 aircraft, newly-disclosed diplomatic cables reveal.

But the airframer's plan to supply the jets - a package which included 10 A330s and 30 A320s - foundered over US government sanctions on Syria's administration.

The cable, from the US embassy in Paris to Washington in October 2008, highlighted that Airbus would continue to seek a US export licence for aircraft sales to Syria.

It also stressed that the airframer had "no intention of structuring the deal to attempt to circumvent [US government] sanctions" - ruling out lease and purchase agreements with private third parties.

"The proposed Airbus-Syrianair deal is subject to a series of strong internal controls by Airbus' top-level management," the cable added, paraphrasing a senior representative of the airframer.

US government representatives pointed out to Airbus that even products qualifying for export licence under a presidential waiver still required "extensive review" by US agencies, a time-consuming process, and added that licence applications were "subject to a general policy of denial".

The cable - one of thousands being publicly released by the Wikileaks organisation - also revealed Airbus's "continuing frustration" over the "complicated US export control and licensing procedures" which could "impact" sales of Airbus products with US-built parts, it said.

It cited delivery of Lufthansa's A380s as a case in point, stating that data associated with the type's Northrop Grumman navigation avionics was restricted by International Traffic in Arms Regulations from disclosure to the European Aviation Safety Agency which was handling certification.

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