A meaningless retaliation from Syria

Published 15.10.2012 10:11
Updated 15.10.2012 10:15

Syria has announced they have banned Turkish passenger flights from its airspace as of October 14th. For Ankara, this latest move by Damascus will not have much impact as government sources state, “We had already redirected our flight path to over the Mediterranean and Jordan.”

With the recent intervention by Turkey of a Syrian plane flying from Moscow still high on the agenda, Damascus has now staged a 'civilian' retaliation, by way of announcing they will no longer be permitting Turkish passenger flights to fly over Syrian air space.

Syria national news agency SANA announced that Damascus made the decision to Ban Turkish civilian flights over its airspace in response to Turkey intercepting a Syrian airliner, which had departed Russia, and forcing it to land in Ankara.

Syria's decision to restrict their air space to Turkey was referred to as a 'retaliation' on Russia's RT television channel. The report said Syria's decision followed a diplomatic battle which began when Turkey forced a Syrian plane to land in the capital and confiscated its cargo.

Turkish diplomatic sources say the ban, which went into effect on Saturday at midnight, has absolutely no deterrence for Ankara and state, "This decision does not result in sanctioning Ankara whatsoever, the routes will be altered and flights can fly over the Mediterranean and Jordan. It will not increase cost by much. There are no Turkish tourists headed for Syria. Quite the contrary, there is a demand From Syria to fly to Turkey."

'THE ROUTES HAVE CHANGED'

Turkish Airlines (THY) has actually been avoiding flying over Syrian airspace ever since a Turkish fighter jet was brought down, killing two pilots, in June. In fact, the airline has been redirecting flights to Saudi Arabia for the Hadj pilgrimage, even though it added an extra 45 minutes of flight time. Following Turkey's interception of the Moscow-Damascus flight, a warning was repeated to all Turkish airlines to redirect flights. Charters were especially given the order to no longer fly over Syrian airspace.

While recently speaking to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish Airlines Executive Board Chairman Hamdi Topçu stated, "Turkish Airlines planes are not flying over Syrian airspace. THY will continue to refrain from using this air space until a secondary safety zone has been established."

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