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The curtain falls, Libya's An-124 is no more

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By Stijn Mitzer

After managing to escape the relentless onslaught sweeping across Libya for some eight years, the luck of one of Libya's two giant An-124 transport aircraft finally ran out on the 22th of June 2019 when it was hit by artillery fire and destroyed in a subsequent fire at Tripoli International Airport (IAP).

The smoldering remains of the behemoth can only be described as a sad end to a career that was cut short by the outbreak of the Libyan Revolution in 2011 and the ensuing difficulties in restarting the operations of the massive strategic airlifters. Libya had originally acquired two An-124s for use with state-owned Libyan Arab Air Cargo in 2001, and began using these behemoths for international charter services for cargo that required aircraft as large as the An-124.

Parked in the same spot on a maintenance ramp in a corner of Tripoli IAP since early 2014, the An-124 (5A-DKN 'Sabrata', built in 1994) had miraculously survived previous attacks on its home b…

From Doha with Love, Turkey's Presidential Boeing 747-8I unveiled

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By Stijn Mitzer

As Turkish government continues its battle against a weakening lira with no prospect of relative stability in sight, the Turkish Presidential Fleet has now been strengthened with a Boeing 747-8I worth around $500 million gifted by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the current Amir of Qatar. The donation comes after President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly had expressed interest in purchasing the aircraft shortly after it was put up for sale in August 2018.

While the acquistion of the Boeing 747-8I by Turkey was met with concern and criticism out of fear the potential $500 million price tag could further exacerbate the financial situation Turkey is currently in, the aircraft was actually received as a gift after Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is said to have stated "I won't take money from Turkey. I will give this plan as a gift." according to President Erdoğan, which further stated that ''costs are not to be considered when it comes to…

Libyan An-124s in trouble as Ukraine seeks to auction aircraft

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By Stijn Mitzer

As the ongoing chaos ravaging Libya continues with no prospect of relative stability in sight, one of Libya's two giant An-124 transport aircraft is now facing the possibility of being auctioned off by Ukraine if the Libyan government fails to pay the $1.2 million it owes to Antonov for storage and routine maintenance of the aircraft at the Antonov facility in Kiev since 2009.

Libya had originally acquired two An-124s for Libyan Arab Air Cargo in 2001, and began using these behemoths for international charter services for cargo that required aircraft as large as the An-124. While the country had previously suffered from almost completeisolation from the outside world as the result of sanctions for the Lockerbie bombing, the An-124s were now flying around the world as Libya began normalising relations with its former arch-enemies.

At least until 2011, when the Libyan revolution and subsequent outbreak of a Civil War heavily impacted commercial aviation…

SyrianAir's Boeing 747SPs, A Rare Beast Disappears

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By Stijn Mitzer

As SyrianAir continues its operations out of the war-thorn country of Syria, the airline's venerable Boeing 747SP aircraft have been notable absentees on the few remaining routes and destinations SyrianAir continues to serve. While the airline had originally operated two Boeing 747SPs (a shorter variant of the Boeing 747-100 designed for ultra-long ranges) delivered in 1976, both aircraft were effectively grounded in 2008 as U.S. sanctions prevented the aircraft from receiving their extensive D-checks, forcing SyrianAir to retire the Boeing 747SP after 32 years of service.

A short-lived thaw in the relationship between the United States and Syria saw the former giving green light for the delivery of the spare parts required for the D-checks of both Boeing 747SPs (YK-AHA 'November 16' and YK-AHB 'Arab Solidarity'), and Syria subsequently struck a deal with the Saudi Alsalam Aircraft Company to perform the D-Checks as well as overhaulin…

Sanctions Busting, SyrianAir acquires A340 passenger jet via Iran

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By Stijn Mitzer

SyrianAir can look back on a turbulent six years of operations serving a country thorn apart by Civil War. Heavily impacted by the implementation of sanctions against Syria in 2012, preventing the airline from buying new aircraft and forcing it to cease its flights to countries in the European Union, SyrianAir (officially known as Syrian Arab Airlines) has had to drastically scale back its operations. This marked the start of a slow degradation process that would see SyrianAir retiring ever more aircraft as spare parts became increasingly difficult to acquire.

Although some expected the acquisition of several types of Russian-produced aircraft such as the Tu-204 or even the Il-96 to replace SyrianAir's Western fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, no such deliveries occurred. A sharp decrease in the operational availability of its Airbus fleet due to a lack of spare parts and maintenance checks, further exacerbated by a mid-air collision of an A320with …