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Lebanon bans Cypriot airline over Israeli shareholder

The boycott of TUS Airways comes amid strengthening ties between Jerusalem and Nicosia.

A Tus Airways Airbus A320-200. Photo by Ronen Fefer/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.
A Tus Airways Airbus A320-200. Photo by Ronen Fefer/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.

Lebanon has banned Cyprus’s largest airline because it is partly owned by an Israeli shareholder.

Fadi al-Hassan, director general of the Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority, barred the Larnaca-based TUS Airways from entering Lebanese airspace because the Ramat Gan-based company Knafaim Holdings Ltd., controlled by Tami Mozes-Borovitz, owns 49.9% of the company’s shares.

The airline, which was established after the dissolution of Cyprus Airways in 2015 with a focus on the eastern Mediterranean, offers flights to Israel, the Greek islands and various European cities with its fleet of five Airbus A320s.

The demand to ban the airline came to the fore after TUS Airways was awarded the right to operate regularly scheduled flights between Cyprus and Lebanon.

The Lebanese decision was taken in light of the Arab boycott of Israel that dates back to pre-state days.

TUS Airways operated charter flights between Tel Aviv and Doha during last year’s soccer World Cup in Qatar. The two countries do not have diplomatic ties.

A spokesman for TUS Airways was not immediately available for comment.

The Lebanese boycott comes amid burgeoning relations between Israel and Cyprus over the last decade and a half in a variety of fields including tourism, medicine, cybersecurity, energy and security cooperation.

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