Middle East Airlines

Middle East Airlines
Middle East Airlines – Air Liban
طيران الشرق الأوسط ـ الخطوط الجوية اللبنانية
Founded 31 May 1945
AOC # MEA-A001
Hubs Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Cedar Miles
Airport lounge Cedar Lounge
Alliance SkyTeam (2012)[1]
  • Middle East Airlines Ground Handling (MEAG)
  • Middle East Airports Services (MEAS)
  • Mideast Aircraft Services Company (MASCO)
  • Lebanese Beirut Airport Catering Company (LBACC)
Fleet size 16(+1 order)
Destinations 31[2]
Company slogan From Lebanon to the World
Parent company Banque du Liban
Headquarters Beirut, Lebanon
Key people Mohammed El-Hout (Chairman & Director General)
Net income increase US$100,000,000+ (2009)[3]
Website http://www.mea.com.lb
A MEA Boeing 747 in old livery
Middle East Airlines office in the 9th arrondissement, Paris

Middle East Airlines – Air Liban S.A.L. (Arabic: طيران الشرق الأوسط ـ الخطوط الجوية اللبنانية‎), more commonly known as Middle East Airlines (MEA) (Arabic: طيران الشرق الأوسط‎), is the national flag-carrier airline of Lebanon, with its head office in Beirut,[4] near Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport.[5] It operates scheduled international flights to Asia, Europe and Africa from its base at Rafic Hariri International Airport.[6]

Middle East Airlines (MEA) is a member of the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The airline expressed its interest in becoming a SkyTeam associate member in early 2006 at a press conference in New York.[7] On 28 February 2011, MEA airlines officially signed the partnership agreement with SkyTeam in an official ceremony in Beirut.



Middle East Airlines was founded on 16 May 1945 by Saeb Salam, with operational and technical support from BOAC. Operations started on 1 January 1946 using three de Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapides on flights between Beirut and Nicosia, followed by flights to Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Cyprus. Two Douglas DC-3s were acquired in mid-1946. Pan American World Airways acquired a stake and management contract in September 1949.

Pan Am was replaced when BOAC acquired 49% of MEA's shares in 1955. A Vickers Viscount was introduced in October 1955 while an Avro York cargo aircraft was leased in June 1957. On 15 December 1960 the first of four de Havilland Comet 4Cs arrived. After the association with BOAC ended on 16 August 1961, MEA was merged with Air Liban on 7 June 1963, which gave Air France a 30% holding, since relinquished. The full title was then Middle East Airlines – Air Liban.

In 1963 MEA also took over Lebanese International Airways. The fleet was modernised with the addition of three Sud Aviation Caravelles, in April 1963; three Boeing 720Bs, in January 1966; one leased Vickers VC10, in March 1967; and a number of Boeing 707-320Cs, from November 1967.

The current name was adopted in November 1965 when the airline was completely merged with Air Liban. Although operations were interrupted by the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and by the Israeli raid on Beirut Airport in 1968, MEA restarted by acquiring a Convair 990A from American Airlines, which entered service on 24 June 1969.

A Boeing 747-200B entered service in June 1975 on the Beirut – London route and later on the Beirut-Paris-New York route from April 1983 until mid 1985. MEA had to adjust its operations to the realities of war in Lebanon between 1975 and 1991 and despite multiple closures of the base at Beirut International Airport, was able to continue operating against all odds. Airbus A310-300s were acquired in 1993 and 1994, followed by an A321-200 and the A330-200 (which replaced the A310s). From 1998 to 2002, MEA implemented its largest restructuring program ever which helped to turn it around from a loss making airline to a profitable one by 2003.

The airline has introduced self check-in kiosks at Beirut's international airport as of July 2010. The airline is also planning on launching the Arabesk Airline Alliance with six other Arab carriers. Their future plans include floating about 25% of their shares on the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) as part of a long-term plan to fully privatize the airline.

The airline is majority owned by the central bank of Lebanon, Banque du Liban, (99.50%) and employs around 5,000 staff group-wide (as of February 2009).[8]

MEA offers only two classes of travel on all of its flights, Cedar Class (Business Class) and Economy Class. First and Premium Economy classes are not offered.


Middle East Airlines flies to 31 destinations[2] in the Middle East, Europe and West Africa.[9] Of these, Copenhagen, Nice and Düsseldorf are served seasonally.[9] MEA also operates charter flights to leisure destinations in various countries, serving cities such as Sharm El Sheikh, Sarajevo, Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman, and Rhodes.

Airbus A321-200 in current livery lands at London Heathrow Airport. (2010)

Moscow, Khartoum, Libreville, Luanda and Madrid have been mentioned as possible future destinations, Madrid being a former destination discontinued in 1995. In a meeting on January 20, 2010, the Lebanese tourism minister announced a deal in which MEA will be allowed to resume flights to Madrid as soon as the logistical matters are resolved.

Codeshare agreements

MEA has codeshare agreements with the following airlines at August 2011: [10]

MEA also participates in SNCF's (French National Railways) tgvair program.


Airbus A330-200 (current livery)
Airbus A330-200 (old livery)

As of April 2011, the MEA fleet consists of the following aircraft with an average age of 4.1 years:[11][12]

Middle East Airlines fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders[13] Passengers
C Y Total
Airbus A320-200
24 102 126
Airbus A321-200
31 118 149
Airbus A330-200
44 200 244

Fleet development

  • During an interview in March 2007 with MEA Chairman Mr. Mohamad El-Hout, he indicated that the airline had three Airbus A330s and four Airbus A319s (later converted to A320s) on order and that the airline will start taking delivery of the first aircraft in May 2007, another in 2009, and the last three in 2010.[citation needed]
  • On June 27, 2007, MEA announced it will be taking a $60,000,000 loan from the Lebanese bank Fransabank to purchase two Airbus A320s. The loan would be repaid over a 10 year period.
  • In early October 2007, MEA announced a modified livery for its fleet as well as an increase of its A320 order from four to six aircraft.
  • In November 2009, MEA placed an order for one Airbus A319 with delivery expected late 2010 to early 2011, but this was later converted to another A320 order.

In October 2008, MEA announced that it was seeking up to eight Boeing 787 Dreamliners or Airbus A350s.[14] It has asked Airbus and Boeing to submit their offers for an order consisting of five firm aircraft and three options for delivery around 2017. The final decision will be made in late 2009 or early 2010. MEA is also in talks with Bombardier for smaller aircraft to be used on regional routes.

Frequent-flyer program


MEA's frequent-flyer program is called Cedar Miles and has three different tiers, Basic, Prestige, and Elite. Prestige and Elite members gain numerous benefits such as access to the Cedar Lounge at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport as well as outstation lounges at all MEA destinations.

Cedar Miles can be earned and redeemed on all MEA flights and all flights operated by Air France, KLM, and Qatar Airways. Cedar Miles can also be earned during stays at all Rotana Hotels and all Hertz car rentals worldwide.

Only MEA and MEA codeshare flights earn qualifying miles which count towards advancing from Basic to Prestige and from Prestige to Elite. Cedar Class tickets earn double the miles traveled and full-fare Economy Class tickets earn a 25% bonus on miles traveled.

In conjunction with Bank Audi, MEA offers two Cedar Miles MasterCard credit cards, Classic and Platinum.

For corporate customers, MEA offers a Cedar Miles Visa Corporate credit card, also in conjunction with Bank Audi.

Holders of the Banque du Liban MasterCard credit card also earn Cedar Miles.


MEA owns the following subsidiaries which are operated independently:

  • Middle East Airlines Ground Handling (MEAG)
Founded in 1999, MEAG is the main ground handling agent at Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport handling nearly 80% of all traffic. MEAG also operates a fixed base operator called Cedar Jet Center at the General Aviation Terminal.
  • Middle East Airports Services (MEAS)
Founded in 1998, MEAS is responsible for the operation and maintenance of Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport conducting many services ranging from cleaning the terminal to de-rubberising the runways.
  • Mideast Aircraft Services Company (MASCO)
Founded in 1955, MASCO is the only fully fledged aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul provider at Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport. MASCO is a part 145 EASA-approved MRO with full airframe check capabilities on the Airbus A300, A310, A320, and A330 family of aircraft. In addition, MASCO is certified to performing painting for all types of aircraft. Besides MEA, main clients include Cyprus Airways.

In addition to the above three wholly owned subsidiaries, MEA owns 77.5% of the Lebanese Beirut Airport Catering Company (LBACC) which is the only catering provider at Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport

Accidents and incidents

A MEA aircraft was destroyed during a confrontation between Israelis and the PLO in 1982
  • On 1 February 1963, Vickers Viscount OD-ADE was in a mid-air collision with C-47 CBK28 of the Turkish Air Force. Both aircraft crashed in Ankara, killing all 14 on board the Viscount, all three on board the C-47 and a further 87 people on the ground.[15]
  • On 28 December 1968, Vickers Viscount OD-ACT of Middle East Airlines was destroyed in a raid by Israeli Commandos at Beirut International Airport.[17]
  • On 1 January 1976, Flight 438, operated by Boeing 720B OD-AFT broke up in mid-air after a bomb was allegedly placed in the forward cargo compartment exploded. All 81 people on board were killed. The aircraft crashed near Al Qaysumah, Saudi Arabia, where international investigators were not allowed near the crash site for 4 weeks.[18]
  • On 8 January 1987, Boeing 707-323C OD-AHB was destroyed by shelling after landing at Beirut International Airport.[19]

See also

Portal icon Lebanon portal
Portal icon Aviation portal
Portal icon Companies portal


  1. ^ "MEA to become a full member of Skyteam" (Press release). Middle East Airlines. 2 November 2010. http://www.mea.com.lb/English/Corporate/Pages/PressDetails.aspx?pressid=68. Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b History and Network. MEA. Retrieved on 2010-12-14.
  3. ^ "Lebanon’s MEA ranks 18th carrier in world in terms of net profits". http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=3&article_id=104434. 
  4. ^ "Contact Info." Middle East Airlines. Retrieved on 20 December 2010. "MEA Head Office P.O.BOX: 11-206 Airport Road, Beirut, Lebanon 1107-2801." Address in French: "Boulevard de l'Aéroport - Code 0111 Beyrouth , Liban."
  5. ^ "إتصل بنا." Middle East Airlines. Retrieved on 2 February 2011. "طريق مطار رفيق الحريري الدولي ـ بيروت، لبنان"
  6. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International: p. 50. 2007-04-10. 
  7. ^ "SkyTeam Welcomes Middle East Airlines, Air Liban (MEA) Interest in SkyTeam Associate Program Governing Board supports carrier’s application for Associate Airline status" (Press release). SkyTeam. 2006-01-16. http://www.skyteam.com/news/headlines/20060116.html. Retrieved 13 December 2010. 
  8. ^ Middle East Airlines AirLiban, MEA. Zawya.com (2010-04-30). Retrieved on 2010-12-14.
  9. ^ a b "Middle East Airlines Route Map". Middle East Airlines. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. http://web.archive.org/web/20080120210231/http://www.mea.com.lb/MEA/English/Misc/RouteMap.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  10. ^ Worldwide codeshare list Aug 2011
  11. ^ Flight International 2008 World Airliner Census. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  12. ^ MEA fleet list at planespotters.net. Retrieved 2011-04-07.
  13. ^ Orders & deliveries. Airbus.com (2010-12-09). Retrieved on 2010-12-14.
  14. ^ MEA seeks up to eight 787s or A350s
  15. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19630201-0. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  16. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19640421-0. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  17. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19681228-8. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  18. ^ "Criminal occurrence description". Aviation Safety Network. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19760101-1. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  19. ^ "Criminal Occurrence description". Aviation Safety Network. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19870108-0. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 

External links

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