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Middle East Airlines

Middle East Airlines – Air Liban
طيران الشرق الأوسط ـ الخطوط الجوية اللبنانية
Founded May 31, 1945 (1945-05-31)
Commenced operations January 1, 1946 (1946-01-01)
AOC # MEA-A001
Hubs Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Cedar Miles
Airport lounge Cedar Lounge
Alliance SkyTeam[1]
Fleet size 17 planes (+10 orders)
Destinations 33[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]
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 اللبنانيةṬayyarān al-Sharq al-Awsaṭ - al-Khuṭūṭ al-Jawwiyyah al-Libnāniyyah), more commonly known as Middle East Airlines (MEA) (Arabic: طيران الشرق الأوسطṬayyarān al-Sharq al-Awsaṭ), 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 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 officially signed the partnership agreement with SkyTeam in an official ceremony in Beirut. On 28 June 2012, MEA officially joined SkyTeam to become its 17th member, as well as its second member airline in the Middle East.[1]


  • History 1
  • Destinations 2
    • Codeshare agreements 2.1
  • Fleet 3
    • Fleet development 3.1
  • Frequent-flyer program 4
  • Subsidiaries 5
  • Accidents and incidents 6
  • In popular culture 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Middle East Airlines was founded on 31 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 and Syria. 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 in-which, the airline lost three Comet 4C's, two Caravelles, a Boeing 707, the Vickers VC10, and the Vickers Viscount,[8] 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.

On June 28, 2012, Middle East Airlines joined the SkyTeam alliance to become its 17th member and the second in the Middle East following Saudia.

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.

A majority of the airline is owned by the central bank of Lebanon, Banque du Liban, (99.50%) and employs around 5,000 staff group-wide (as of February 2009). In November 2011, the chairman unlawfully terminated the employment of a pilot who had cancer. This has forced the pilot union to go on strike as of November 29, 2011.[9]

MEA offers only two classes of travel on all of its flights: Business Class (which is called Cedar Class) and Economy Class. Neither First Class nor Premium Economy Class are offered.


Middle East Airlines flies to 34 (28 year-round and 6 seasonal) destinations[2] in the Middle East, Europe, and West Africa.[10] Copenhagen, Medina, Mykonos, Nice, Sarajevo, and Sharm el-Sheikh are the destinations that are served seasonally.[10] MEA also operates charter flights to leisure destinations in various countries, serving cities such as Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman, and Rhodes.

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

Moscow, Khartoum, Libreville, Luanda, and Madrid have been mentioned as possible future destinations.

Codeshare agreements

MEA has codeshare agreements with the following airlines at June 2013:[11]

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


A Middle East Airlines Airbus A330-200 on short final to London Heathrow Airport in 2009.
A Middle East Airlines Airbus A320-200 on short final to Frankfurt Airport in 2014.

As of April 2014, the MEA fleet consists of the following aircraft with an average age of 4.6 years:[13][14]

Fleet development

MEA A320 and A330 In-Flight Entertainment System
  • During an interview in March 2007 with MEA Chairman Mr. Mohamad El-Hout, he indicated that the airline had 3 Airbus A330s and 4 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.
  • On June 27, 2007, MEA announced it will be taking a $60,000,000 loan from the Lebanese bank Fransabank to purchase 2 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 4 to 6 aircraft.
  • In November 2009, MEA placed an order for an 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.[15] 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. MEA is also in talks with Bombardier for smaller aircraft to be used on regional routes.

MEA received the 5000th Airbus A320 built on January 20, 2012.[16]

On 12 July 2012, MEA announced an order for 5 A320neo and 5 A321neo aircraft along with 8 options. The 10 aircraft are expected to go into service in 2017.[17]

MEA received its eleventh A320-214 on the 2nd of October 2013 with its first "Skyteam" livery, and is equipped with sharklets.

Frequent-flyer program

In 2011, Middle East Airlines changed its frequent-flyer program to a 4-tier program- Blue Cedar, Silver Cedar, Golden Cedar, and President's Club, respectively- in preparation for joining the SkyTeam airline alliance. Silver Cedar, Golden Cedar, and President's Club 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. Golden Cedar and President's Club also include guaranteed seat reservation in economy as well as other extra benefits.[18]

Cedar Miles can be earned and redeemed on all MEA flights and all flights operated by Air France, KLM, and Qatar Airways, as well as codeshare partners on certain routes. Cedar Miles can also be earned during stays at all Rotana Hotels and all Hertz car rentals worldwide.[19]

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.[19]


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 with capacity of 20,000 meals/day

Accidents and incidents

A MEA aircraft was destroyed during a confrontation between Israelis and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1982

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ a b Middle East Airlines Joins SkyTeam
  2. ^ a b History and Network. MEA. Retrieved on 2014-04-02.
  3. ^ "Lebanon’s MEA ranks 18th carrier in world in terms of net profits". 
  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".  
  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. Retrieved 13 December 2010. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Middle East Airlines AirLiban, MEA. (2010-04-30). Retrieved on 2010-12-14.
  10. ^ a b "Middle East Airlines Route Map". Middle East Airlines. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  11. ^ Worldwide codeshare list Aug 2011
  12. ^ Cyprus Airways Middle East Airlines Launch Code-Sharing Cooperation on Beirut Route
  13. ^ 2008 World Airliner CensusFlight International. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  14. ^ MEA fleet list at Retrieved 2011-04-07.
  15. ^ MEA seeks up to eight 787s or A350s
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^
  18. ^ Earning Frequent Flyer Miles
  19. ^ a b Frequent Flyer Partners
  20. ^ "OD-ABU Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  21. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  22. ^ "Middle East Airlines SE 210 Caravelle III OD-AEM accident at sea 10 NM SSE of Dhahran Airport, Saudi Arabia on 17 April 1964." (Archive) Committee of Accident Investigation convened by the Superintendent Director General of Civil Aviation, Saudi Arabia. July 1964. Prepared by Harro Ranter, Aviation Safety Network. Source: Aircraft Accident Digest No.16 (ICAO Circular 82-AN/69) page 151-161.
  23. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  24. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  25. ^ "Criminal occurrence description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  26. ^ "Criminal Occurrence description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  27. ^ U2 (2000). Beautiful Day. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Official SkyTeam website

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