BA
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Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Fri Oct 22, 2004 2:04 pm

This was posted yesterday by the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO).

http://www.aaco.org/pubnews.asp?id=590&lang=1

The airline which will launch operations in March 2005 will operate two 50-seat turboprops (type unspecified). The airline will be owned 25% by MEA, 25% by Syrianair, and the remaining 50% will be private investers mostly from Lebanon and Syria.

The airline will initially serve the Beirut - Damascus route which is very popular with thousands of people crossing the border every day. They will provide low-fares and good frequencies to compete with the cheap and convenient buses, taxis, and limosines that operate between Beirut and Damascus.

As Damascus International Airport (DAM) is far from the city and thus inconvenient for a shuttle service, Syria is currently in the process of renovating Al Mezzeh Airport which is located in the city. The airline will operate from there instead of Damascus Int'l.

Once launched, the airline will be based in Beirut International Airport and Damascus Al Mezzeh Airport.

At later stages, the airline will be expanded to possibly acquire regional jets and operate flights to other parts of Syria and begin service to Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Cyprus, and Turkey.

Unfortunately the aircraft type still has not been specified. But it's been reported that they are either looking at ATR 42/72s or the AN-140. I don't know if they decided yet or not.

Regards

[Edited 2004-10-22 07:15:52]
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
OD720
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Fri Oct 22, 2004 2:58 pm

I think it's a good move to have an airport closer to the city. Maybe they should choose the ATR since both MEA and Syrian are Airbus customers.
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Fri Oct 22, 2004 3:05 pm

I think it's a good move to have an airport closer to the city.

I agree.

Maybe they should choose the ATR since both MEA and Syrian are Airbus customers.

I think they probably will. I believe they will be used, and not brand new. Hopefully they will be in good condition though...

I wish they'd consider Dash 8-300s....maybe they are...

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
OD720
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Fri Oct 22, 2004 3:23 pm

I hope this would open a chance to the Rene Mouawad airport at Kleyat Tripoli as well. Tripoli to Damascus is also busy but takes a lot longer to travel by car.
 
backfire
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Fri Oct 22, 2004 9:08 pm

It may have been posted by the Arab Air Carriers Organization but it's actually an abridged version of a story originally published by Air Transport Intelligence.
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 1:19 am

OD720,

I agree. I wonder what will be the fate of Rene Mouwaad Airport. There was talk about transforming it into a cargo airport kind of like Ostend, Belgium and Maastricht, Netherlands but I don't know if it will ever materialize.

Backfire,

Could you post the additional details that the Air Transport Intelligence article had? Did they mention aircraft type?

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
backfire
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 1:34 am

BA:

The ATI article didn't specify what type of aircraft would be used, only that they would be 50-seaters - initially two but expanding at one per year depending on business.
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 4:03 am

Thanks a lot Backfire.

I wonder what they will name the airline. I know that "air taxi" is just the name of the project. It will have a regular airline name.

Maybe Levant Express?  Big grin
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
pzurita1
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 4:18 am

BA,

How long does it take to reach Damascus city from Beirut by road? How much does it cost (be it a taxi, a limmo or a bus)?

how much is an airfare from BEY-DAM, currently?


Thanx

PZ
Next flight: IAH-DBX-MRU-ANT
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 4:39 am

Pzurita1,

How long does it take to reach Damascus city from Beirut by road?

It takes about 2-3 hours depending on traffic and how long the border passport control and customs takes. Sometimes it will take less than an hour.

How much does it cost (be it a taxi, a limmo or a bus)?

I'm afraid I'll have to refer you to OD720 who I am sure will give you a prompt reply soon.

All I know is it is very cheap by western standards.

how much is an airfare from BEY-DAM, currently?

Currently the only BEY-DAM service is Syrian Air's 1x weekly (Saturday) A320-200 Damascus (DAM) - Aleppo (ALP) - Beirut (BEY) - Brussels (BRU) - Beirut (BEY) - Aleppo (ALP) - Damascus (DAM) service.

One CAN fly the BEY-ALP segment or BEY-ALP-DAM segment, but this flight stops in Beirut simply to pick up more passengers on the way to Brussels.

Since Aleppo is in the north of Syria, this flight will take 3 hours! So it simply isn't practical.

Syrian Air also operates a 1x weekly B727-200 Damascus (DAM) - Beirut (BEY) - Tunis (TUN) - Casablanca (CMN) - Tunis (TUN) - Beirut (BEY) - Damascus (DAM), however this flight doesn't operate in the winter. Again, this flight stops in Beirut simply to pick up passengers, although you CAN fly the DAM-BEY segment, but it just isn't practical because of the frequency.

So in all honesty, there really is no useful BEY-DAM service at the moment.

The market is big, so this new regional carrier should be successful if they provide good frequencies and low fares. The flight should take less than 45 minutes and with two aircraft, they can offer quite good frequencies and make it successful.

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
airxliban
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 4:40 am

How long does it take to reach Damascus city from Beirut by road? How much does it cost (be it a taxi, a limmo or a bus)?

A servees taxi (usually a 1970s dodge charger) from Charles Helou to Garage Baramki in Damascus takes about 2.5 hours or so, depending on how long you are stuck at the border.

The car takes 5 people not including the driver and the driver charges $50. So you can look at it as $10 per person or if you are just 3 then have the whole thing to yourselves for 50/3.

Don't know how much an airfare is but it is not a commoly used form of travel between the two cities.
PARIS, FRANCE...THE BEIRUT OF EUROPE.
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 4:45 am

Thanks AirxLiban.

I know the buses from Charles Helou station are cheaper than those yellow Beirut-Damascus taxis.

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
airxliban
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 4:50 am

i would personally go for this air taxi thing if i ever have to go to syria again

the taxi is alright i guess but it is annoying to have to get through the frontier, esp. on the syrian side.
PARIS, FRANCE...THE BEIRUT OF EUROPE.
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 11:37 am

Have you taken the bus from Beirut to Damascus AirxLiban? They use pretty nice air-conditioned coaches and I hear they are very cheap.

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
airxliban
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 3:32 pm

Have you taken the bus from Beirut to Damascus AirxLiban? They use pretty nice air-conditioned coaches and I hear they are very cheap.


No I haven't actually...but I hope they are not as pretty and nicely air conditioned as the Aleppo-Damascus-Beirut coaches!!

In any event $10 for me is pretty cheap passage to Syria from Lebanon. If I ever have to go to Syria again, I suppose I would do it unless this air taxi thing is legit by then.

P.S. 1500 posts!
PARIS, FRANCE...THE BEIRUT OF EUROPE.
 
OD720
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 4:51 pm

As mentioned, the bus and taxi fares are quite cheap but one should remember that there is huge traffic between the two cities and I'm sure a lot of people will simply choose to travel by air if there were good regular services.

Not all are happy with travelling by road so I think there is good potential. I don't go to Syria simply because of the hassle on the border but for sure I would consider flying there in the future.
 
EurostarVA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sat Oct 23, 2004 5:50 pm

Note also the convenience of flying from Damascus to Beirut Airport to connect to an onward flight. However, for this to work properly, the new regional airline must offer a minimum of 3 daily flights to enable passengers to connect to a sufficient number of flights. Perhaps timing them to coincide with important peaks during the day (MEA eastward flights, MEA westward flights, and late night flight to connect with European carriers).

I think the best aircraft for the route is a 20-seater (and not a 50 seater). Ideally, if capital was not an issue, an EMBRAER ERJ-135 would be the best option as it has the smallest capacity in the regional jet category. Locals are wary of smaller turboprops because they view as 'dangerous' so a small regional jet would be a good solution.
If there is a will, there is a way
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sun Oct 24, 2004 12:56 am

OD720,

I always hear mixed views about the Lebanese/Syrian border. I sometimes hear that it is a breeze and that other times it is just hell. It seems to vary a lot.

EurostarVA,

Regional Jets are not economical on such a short route. On very short routes like this one, turboprops are considerably more economical which is why I think they are picking turboprops and not regional jets.

I agree that a minimum of 3 daily flights is needed.

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
OD720
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sun Oct 24, 2004 4:13 am

You are right BA. Some people really don't mind, other's do. It's not as bad as it sounds but it's not too smooth either. Maybe it's related to the heavy loads on the border crossings at certain times which is a reason to have the air service in itself  Smile
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Sun Oct 24, 2004 5:31 am

You are right BA. Some people really don't mind, other's do. It's not as bad as it sounds but it's not too smooth either.

One of my aunts goes into Syria to buy some things and she has had mixed experiences. Sometimes it's bad, sometimes it's good.

I heard it is a pain for foreign citizens to cross the border, but not too bad for Lebanese citizens (since you don't even need a passport, just government issued ID).

Maybe it's related to the heavy loads on the border crossings at certain times which is a reason to have the air service in itself

Exactly.  Smile
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Mon Oct 25, 2004 2:48 am

OD720,

How long does it take to go from Beirut to Aleppo (Halab) by road? It's quite a good distance.

I definately think there needs to be flights between Beirut and Aleppo (Halab).

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
OD720
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Mon Oct 25, 2004 3:04 am

It takes a good 5 hours +, sometimes up to 6 hours. I totally agree with you, there must be a flight there (hello MenaJet!) even if this "air taxi" doesn't come to life.
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Mon Oct 25, 2004 3:48 am

Speaking of MenaJet...I wonder what their future is like.

Personally, I think they are going to shut down soon.

The charter season ended, all the flights they were doing for Nakhal ended last month. I think their A320 is just sitting around right now, am I correct?

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
OD720
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:31 am

That's right. They have no flights and the A320 is still parked probably paying the daily parking fees, staff salaries and the monthly lease of the plane.

I can't tell what will happen.
 
BA
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:40 am

They have no flights and the A320 is still parked probably paying the daily parking fees, staff salaries and the monthly lease of the plane.

Hehe......money down the drain.  Smile
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
BA
Topic Author
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Tue Oct 26, 2004 4:07 pm

OD720,

Do you know anything about Mezzeh Airport in Damascus? I think it is closed right now, am I right? It was bombed by Israel a number of times in the past. I think it was a Syrian Air Base?

Either way, after having done some research, they are doing a number of updates to it.

They are expanding the airport to handle between 0.5 million and 1 million passengers per year. They are building a new runway which will be 7,545 feet long (2300 meters). They are building a passenger terminal that is 21,500 square meters that will allow the accomodation of 6 small airliners.

The entire project will take two years. Do you know when they started? Sounds quite ambitious.

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
OD720
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RE: Lebanese-Syrian "Air Taxi" Project Update

Tue Oct 26, 2004 5:30 pm

BA,

I don't know anything about the airport. Thanks for the "research" and update.

Regards.

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