Commercial Aircraft Flying Over a War Zone: Syria
By Aviation Blogger Bushra Nasr
Nowadays many people are wondering if they can fly to Syria safely. Well, yes, they can. But it is very important to know how and when is it safe to visit this country.
Here you can find some basic information about traveling through Syria:
Airports and Airlines
Syria has four airports, and at the moment, Damascus International Airport is the only one taking international flights. The other three Lattakia, Qameshli and Aleppo are sometimes accessible for domestic flights. Damascus airport is still open for all international Airlines. It is important to mention that most of the airports suspended their flights to Syria in 2012. Nevertheless, in May 30th 2015, Bahrain allowed the conduct of the first flight to Damascus International Airport after a hiatus of three years.
The three functional airlines flying in and out of Syria are SyrianAir, Sham Wings Airlines and Fly Damas Airlines. SyrianAir is the flag carrier of the country and obviously the oldest. SyrianAir has a fleet of 8 commercial aircraft, 6 Airbus and 2 ATR. Only one A320-200 is in service.
Air ticket fares
It’s no surprise that the cost of tickets to Syria has increased the past 5 years due to the currency value drop, restrictions of airports in other countries and difficulties to secure fuel supplies. Tickets may range from 460$ to 650$, but during Eid holidays, tickets can go up to 1 000$.
Where is one more option – you can travel to Syria through Lebanon. The flight fare will be cheaper but the drive from Lebanon to Damascus can take from 5 to 9 hours. Due to the fact that Lebanese government has changed its admittance entry rules, the Syrian Lebanese borders are not as crowded as before, but the deliberate attitude remains untouched. So, at some point, the highway to Damascus from Lebanon had more than military checkpoints.
Airspace over Syria
If you look at this photo, you can see how clear the airspace over Syria is. They even named it “Chaos Triangle” because it’s not secure, and it prompted a rigid shift in commercial aviation routes, causing an approximate one hour longer flight to avoid the triangle.
Flight incidents in Syria (over past 5 years):
On 18 January 2015, Aan Antonov An-26 operated by the Syrian Air Force crashed while attempting to land at the besieged Abu al-Duhur military airport in Idlib Governorate. The plane was carrying troops as well as military equipment and ammunition. There were 35 people on board, 30 Syrian soldiersand 5 Iranian military experts. All people on board died.
- On 20 September 2012, Syrian Arab Airlines Airbus A320-232 passenger plane sustained substantial damage in a mid-air collision with a Syrian military helicopter over Duma, Syria. The A320 had reportedly departed Damascus International Airport (DAM) when the accident happened. The helicopter struck the tail of the jet. The helicopter pilot lost control and crashed. The A320 made a safe landing at Damascus, with the top of the vertical stabilizer having been sheared off by the helicopter.
- In march 2016, an A320-232 SyrianAir’s last operational passenger jet broke down in Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz International Airport prior to take off due to technical problems.
Since 1919, Syria have had 28 occurrences in the ASN safety database, 8 of them by Syrian Arab Airlines. Still a good record if you, for example, look at Romania! During this period they’ve had 60 accidents and incidents.
How well-maintained are the airplanes?
A bit of ice won’t do you any harm.
Syria is a beautiful country and it is well-known for being a pioneer in aviation in the Middle East. These flights or drives to Syria can be hair raising experiences but a lot of families and individuals still fly to Syria to see their relatives. These people are willing to go inside the chaotic zone to spend some time with their beloved ones rather than talking to them over the phone…and the Syrian Airlines have heroic Pilots to make that possible!
Pictures: FlightRadar24.com, aviation-safety.net
“My name is Bushra Nasr. I am 25 years old aviatiaholic, living in Dubai and working at Lenovo. One of my favorite aircrafts is the Vought F4U Corsair. I spend my weekends either on track or at the RC runway where I crash my RC Cessnas.”
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