Middle East

Syria’s Damascus airport resumes commercial flights after COVID-19 halt

AMMAN (Reuters) – Syria on Thursday reopened Damascus airport for regular international commercial traffic after a six-month halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, saying it had imposed strict health measures inside the facility.

Airport officials said national flag carrier Syrian Airlines would initially resume scheduled flights to regional destinations including Cairo and Beirut, with a weekly flight to Khartoum and adhoc flights to Kuwait.

The first scheduled flight took off for Cairo, state media said.

Commercial flights were suspended on March 25, just a few days after Syria reported its first COVID-19 infection, which medics and UN officials said was linked to Shi’ite pilgrims who travelled by air from Iran.

The authorities later sealed a major Shi’ite shrine in the capital, a magnet for Iranian pilgrims, linking it to a major outbreak.

The country has confirmed 4,200 cases of the new coronavirus with 200 deaths since the first case was reported on March 22.

It was not clear if any foreign flights were scheduled to land in the country’s main airport, to which Iran’s Mahan Air and a handful of other foreign airlines operate regular flights.

A military area near Damascus airport was bombed in February in strikes Syria attributed to Israel, which has this year stepped up strikes on alleged Iranian military installations inside the country.


Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

Photo: Passengers wait in line as they maintain social distancing at Damascus International Airport on its re-opening day for regular international commercial traffic after months of closure following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in this handout released by SANA on October 1, 2020, Syria. SANA/Handout via REUTERS

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