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Syrian Air to Buy Two Russian Planes Within Months, Sana Says

Syrian Air plans to buy two Russian planes in the next two months to make up for shortages in its fleet, state-run Sana news agency said.

Syrian Air has been able to buy only two ATR aircraft since 2003 because of U.S. sanctions, Sana said, citing Ghaydaa Abd-al-Latif, the company’s director general. She said the planes operate domestically and fly to nearby countries while the company’s Airbus aircraft have stopped flights to Europe because of EU sanctions.

Abd-al-Latif spoke after a meeting that Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi headed at Syrian Air’s headquarters in Damascus yesterday to discuss the financial difficulties the company is facing because of aircraft shortages and the closure of routes and stations due to the sanctions. The measures were imposed following the government’s crackdown on an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule that began in March 2011.

Al-Halqi said the two planes were part of 15 the company plans to buy by 2015. Transport Minister Mahmoud Saeed said he expected the purchase of the two aircraft to be finalized within two months.

A decision was taken to restructure the company and establish a center for the maintenance of Syrian aircraft with help from “some friendly countries” that were not identified, Sana said.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that more than 26,400 people have been killed in the unrest, which has also hurt all sectors of the economy, including tourism.

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