Syria resumes commercial flights out of Damascus

The first international flight in six months departed today for Cairo.

al-monitor Passengers wearing protective face masks arrive at the Damascus International airport in the Syrian capital on Oct. 1, 2020.  Photo by LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images.

Oct 1, 2020

Syria today resumed international passenger flights out of the Damascus airport some six months after authorities suspended air travel as part of coronavirus restrictions. 

Syrian Airlines will fly from Damascus International Airport to regional locations, including Cairo and Beirut, and resume a weekly flight to Khartoum, Sudan, according to Reuters. The national flag carrier will also pick up ad hoc flights to Kuwait. 

The first flight departed for Cairo today with 130 passengers, “heralding the re-opening of the airport to flights amid health measures that ensure safe transportation,” wrote Syrian state news agency SANA. 

In recent weeks, a number of regional airlines have expanded their network abroad. The Dubai-based Emirates resumed flights to Muscat, Oman, this week, and Saudi Arabia began allowing international air travel for certain categories of citizens and residents earlier this month. 

The Syrian government halted flights March 25, several days after recording its first COVID-19 case.

The Health Ministry has recorded 4,200 cases of the virus and 200 deaths in government-held areas, but given the limited testing, medics and Syria watchers suspect the true number is far higher. In a Sept. 15 study, a team of researchers at Google, the London School of Economics and other academic institutions estimated that only 1.25% of deaths due to the coronavirus were being reported in Damascus.

The researchers said other parts of the country where testing is even more limited, including rebel-held Idlib province and the Kurdish-run northeast, could have “experienced similar or worse mortality rates.”

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