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Air France Polls Passengers for Cash at Fuel Stop in Damascus

The crew of an Air France SA flight from Paris to Beirut asked passengers to dig into their wallets for cash after the aircraft had to make an unplanned fuel stop in Syria, a destination the airline stopped serving months ago.

The airline diverted the flight yesterday after security at the Lebanese destination was considered insufficient for a landing, a spokeswoman for the airline said. The aircraft touched down in Damascus because it carried insufficient fuel to make it to Amman in Jordan, which is a regular destination.

Airport service providers in Damascus have stopped accepting standard forms of payment, as Syria remains mired in a months-long violent uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. The pilots queried business-class passengers if they could pay with cash if necessary, before the airline managed to settle the bill by other means, the spokeswoman said, without elaborating.

After refueling, the flight headed to Larnaca in Cyprus, where passengers spent the night before continuing the next day to Beirut, where the situation had stabilized, according to the company. Air France, a unit of Air France-KLM Group, suspended service to Damascus in March.

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