The Public Authority of Civil Aviation has confirmed Cham Wings' service, which began on September 3.
“We were in talks with the airlines and they have started their operations. The flights operate on Thursdays and Fridays to and from Muscat International Airport,” an official from the authority told Muscat Daily.
The Syrian community in Oman has welcomed the service, saying that the journey home will now be hassle-free, shorter and cheaper. Samer Othman, a member of the Syrian Social Club said, “We are really excited with the development. The travel back home usually took us about 11 hours. When we went home in July, we had to first fly to UAE and then look for a connection to Syria. A ticket cost around RO400 and it was pretty hectic.”
Othman said the direct flight takes only three and a half hours and “we won't waste money or have to switch flights”. “I have seen an advertisement offering tickets for around RO150.”
Fida Nasar, a Syrian residing in Sohar said, “It took me nearly an entire day to reach my city. There weren't many options. This (the direct flight) is a positive change.”
Some said that getting tickets on Syrian Air was an incredibly difficult task and most, like Sehan Narousi, had to depend on agents. “If not, we had to look for someone who could buy our tickets in UAE and pay them a commission. Then we would take a flight to UAE and travel onwards. We did not have an online option and there are no agents for Syrian Air here.”
Muscat is not an option on the list of International Air Transport Association-approved destinations on Syrian Air's online booking system. Damascus-based Cham Wings has links with local and international travel agency networks and scheduled operations to cover routes other than Damascus-Baghdad to reach other regional and international destinations such as El Najaf, Beirut, Malmo in Sweden, Istanbul (connection with Beirut) and now, Muscat.
The airline, in future plans to link Syria with Kuwait, Doha and Khartoum.
It is also looking to expand to cargo and mail service, opening new sales points globally and adding to its fleet new generation of aircraft.