Syrian Arab Airlines has introduced an Airbus A340-300 to its operation, opening services by conducting a service to Dubai.

The Syrian ministry of transport says that a ceremony in Damascus has welcomed the aircraft, with attending delegates including transport minister Ali Hammoud.

Syrian Arab Airlines' aircraft (YK-AZA) is a 17-year old airframe originally delivered on lease to Cathay Pacific.

The aircraft's layout includes 24 business-class seats, says the ministry, which adds that it will shortly be used on Chinese routes.

"Air transport is of great importance in supporting the country's economy," says the ministry, adding that it contributes additional revenues to the state treasury.

Introduction of the aircraft, it adds, shows that the Syrian transport sector is "recovering" despite the conflict which has engulfed parts of the country.

Syria remains subject to US government sanctions and the A340's transfer to Syrian Arab Airlines appears to have been a complex affair.

Flight Fleets Analyzer indicates that the jet was returned to AerCap in 2015 after a lease to SriLankan Airlines.

But it was subsequently placed on the US registry, and was eventually passed to an undisclosed entity before being transferred to Kazakhstan, where it was stored on the local register as UP-A4001, before being transferred to the Chad registry and then to Syria.

Kazakhstan's transport prosecutor stated in February, however, that it had informed the country's national anti-corruption bureau about the possibility that Airbus aircraft on the Kazakh state registry had been sold to Syrian entities.

Source: Cirium Dashboard