National carrier to modernise

10 September 2004
The Transportation Ministry will issue by the end of September two tenders as part of its programme to modernise state carrier Syrian Arab Airlines (SAA). Proposals will be invited for the supply of seven large aircraft to expand and modernise the SAA fleet. The other tender will be for a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract to provide kitchens and in-flight catering services to SAA.

The BOT contract is significant because it will be the first partnership between the public and private sector in the aviation sector. In December, Germany's Lufthansa Consulting was appointed to carry out a review of SAA and the Civil Aviation Authority in a project funded by Berlin (MEED 16:1:04).

SAA recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Lebanon's Middle East Airlines (MEA) to establish a joint venture airline between the two airlines. The new carrier will provide low-cost air taxi services in the region using 50-seater aircraft. Damascus and Beirut are holding talks with a number of potential private sector investors to participate in the venture. The UK's SH&E International Air Transport Consultancy is adviser on the project.

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