UAE airlines oppose ban on flights to Syria

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Airlines in the UAE are continuing to fly to Syria after the Arab League issued a deadline of yesterday for sanctions.

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Airlines in the UAE are continuing to fly to Syria after the Arab League issued a deadline of yesterday for sanctions.

A commercial ban on flights has not been confirmed and there is little clarity over whether such a measure could even be enforced, industry insiders say.

Saj Ahmad, an analyst at FBE Aerospace, said many airlines were against such a move.

“I can see vocal opposition to a ban and maybe even defiance,” Mr Ahmad said. “In many ways, the Arab League is toothless. They can ‘impose’ it, but whether individual airlines adhere to it is another matter entirely.” The Arab League sanctions committee said flights to Syria would be halved, Reuters reported.

Etihad Airways said it had no further update on the situation following its announcement last week that it was “closely monitoring the situation in Syria and will continue to fly to Damascus for as long as we are permitted to”.

Emirates Airline is also continuing to fly to Syria.

The General Civil Aviation Authority on Wednesday said “UAE airlines have no intention of suspending flights to Syria”.

Meanwhile, a number of hotel projects in Syria are on hold, and the sector has already been affected by US sanctions.

“Syria was subject to some US export trade sanctions, which represented some constraints on the entrance of new US hotel operators,” said Chiheb ben Mahmoud, the senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, Middle East and Africa. Abu Dhabi’s Rotana has two hotels open in Syria and a further three properties that were under development. “We have several projects there that are on hold,” said Omer Kaddouri, the chief operating officer at Rotana Hotels.

“The investments that we have in Syria are with various entities that cannot be named. I think that the situation in Syria today is something that we are all hoping will improve because Syria needs a lot of hotels,” he said.

“We’re just looking forward for things to get better so we can start getting back on track with our properties.”

There has also been a sharp drop in the number of Syrians travelling within the country.

Dubai’s Jumeirah Group also had a project under development. “It is not appropriate for us to comment on the political situation in Syria,” it said. “We continue to monitor events.”

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.