By 2012, most airlines had withdrawn their services to Damascus International Airport in Syria due to a civil war. Now, as the situation in Syria seems to be improving, Damascus is looking to make a comeback on the international airline market.
Damascus International Airport
Damascus was once a major international destination for many airlines. Back in 2010, the airport had over 50 destinations and served almost 4.5 million passengers a year with a healthy growth outlook.
Many major carriers operated significant schedules to Damascus in its glory days. With an improved situation nearing stability, airlines are eager to restart flights to Damascus International Airport.
The Syrian government is also interested in revitalizing the airport with a new international terminal. In fact, the Syrian Transport Minister has been courting Russian investors into building a new international terminal capable of handling up to 15 million passengers a year- three times the current capacity.
Which Airlines Want to Fly to Damascus?
There are currently two major airlines eager to serve Damascus. One is Royal Jordanian. Royal Jordanian was the last major airline that withdrew service from Syria and they are eager to fly to Syria again.
Gulf Air, a smaller airline based in Bahrain, is looking to resume flights to Syria. These flights may start in 2019!
Etihad and FlyDubai are also interested in examining route viability. While they have not committed to serving Damascus, the Gulf region remains a significant market for travel out of Syria.
A more boutique airline, Oman Air, has already been approved to launch flights between Oman and Damascus. Plans are so far ahead that Oman Air is even recruiting ground staff at Damascus! Hopefully the ground staff will be pleasant to deal with.
Is Flying to Syria Safe?
It depends on which source you ask. The United Kingdom still advises citizens to be warned about no consular support in Syria. They do not recommend any sort of travel to Syria.
Across the Atlantic, the United States warns American citizens to avoid travel to Syria and to avoid airlines that fly through Syrian airspace. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have also joined the United States in warning airlines and passengers about flying over Syrian airspace.
However, some airlines still overfly Syrian airspace. Most notably, Middle East Airlines overflies Syria on its eastbound routes. Middle East Airlines doesn’t seem to be concerned and there has been no news about violence directed at a Middle East Airlines flight overflying Syria.
Ultimately, it is up to passengers to decide if they want to travel to Syria. Major governments are still warning citizens about the risk of travel to this country. Should the situation in Syria continue to improve, however, we can expect to see fewer travel warnings and greater demand for tourism.
Given the large Syrian community outside of Syria, there could be huge travel demand for those wishing to return to Damascus either full time or for visiting family members after years of separation.
We will have to wait and see when major commercial airline service returns to Damascus.
Would you fly to Syria? Let us know in the comments below!