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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
Member lounge Cedar Lounge
Alliance SkyTeam (Associate Member sponsored by Air France in late-2010)
  • Middle East Airlines Ground Handling (MEAG)
  • Middle East Airports Services (MEAS)
  • Mideast Aircraft Services Company (MASCO)
  • Lebanese Beirut Airport Catering Company (LBACC)
Fleet size 13 (+4 orders)
Destinations 26
Company slogan From Lebanon to the World
Parent company Banque du Liban
Headquarters Beirut, Lebanon
Key people Mohamad El-Hout (Chairman, Director General)
Net income US$89,463,000 (2008)[1]

Middle East Airlines - Air Liban (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.[2] It operates scheduled international flights to the Middle East, Europe and Africa with its base at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport[3].

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[4].



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, 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 CV-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.[5] Airbus A310-300s were acquired in 1993 and 1994, followed by an A321-200 and an A330-200, (which replaced the A310s). The airline was restructured in 2001.

The airline will introduce self check-in kiosks at Beirut's international airport and launch the Arabesk regional alliance with six other Arab carriers. They will be floating 25% of their shares on the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) as part of long-term plans to fully privatise the airline.

The airline is majority owned by the central bank of Lebanon, Banque du Liban, (99.23%) and employs 3,000 staff group-wide (as of February 2009).[6]


Middle East Airlines flies to 26 destinations (as of October 2009)[7] in the Middle East, Europe, and West Africa.[8] Of these destinations, three are served seasonally, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Nice.[8]

MEA also operates charter flights to various leisure destinations such as Sharm El Sheikh, Marsa Alam, Antalya, Bodrum, Marmaris, and Rhodes.

Although the airline does not have an extensive network compared to other international airlines, it did serve 36 destinations from Beirut in 1968. Eighteen of those routes are no longer served today.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Flights to Baghdad, which were suspended since 1984, were resumed at the end of October 2009[15].

Flights to Berlin, suspended since 1998, were resumed on 1 June on a summer seasonal basis.

Arbil, Moscow, Khartoum, Kinshasa, Luanda and Madrid have been mentioned as possible future destinations, Madrid being a former destination discontinued in 1995. In a meeting on 20 January, 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, probably before the busy Summer 2010 season.

Flights to Brussels will be restarted on a seasonal basis on June 22, 2010. These flights will be three times a week serviced with an A320.


Airbus A330-200 (current livery)
Airbus A330-200 (old livery)
Airbus A321-200 (old livery)

As of January 2010 the MEA fleet consists of the following aircraft:[16][17][18]

Middle East Airlines Fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Options Passengers
Airbus A320-232 3 (OD-MRR, OD-MRS, OD-MRT) 4 2 126 (24/102)
Airbus A321-231 6 (F-ORME, F-ORMF, F-ORMG, F-ORMH, F-ORMI, F-ORMJ) 149 (31/118)
Airbus A330-243 4 (F-ORMA, OD-MEA, 0D-MEB, OD-MEC) 244 (44/200)
Total 13 4 2
  • During an interview in March 2007 with MEA Chairman Mr. Mohamad El-Hout, he indicated that the airline had four 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 June 2008, another six 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.
  • Aircraft used in the past by MEA include: Airbus A300, Airbus A310, 3 Airbus A320, 3 Boeing 747, Boeing 707-300 and Boeing 720.

Future aircraft orders

In October 2008, MEA announced that it was seeking up to eight Boeing 787s or Airbus A350s.[19] 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.

Codeshare agreements

MEA has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:

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


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

  • 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.[20]


  1. ^ "Lebanon’s MEA ranks 18th carrier in world in terms of net profits". 
  2. ^ "Contact Us." Middle East Airlines. Retrieved on 19 October 2009.
  3. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International: p. 50. 2007-04-10. 
  4. ^ Skyteam Press release
  5. ^
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "Middle East Airlines Route Map". Middle East Airlines. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  9. ^ "Beirut International Airport Destinations in 1968 (A)". The Cedarjet Pages. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  10. ^ "Beirut International Airport Destinations in 1968 (B-C)". The Cedarjet Pages. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  11. ^ "Beirut International Airport Destinations in 1968 (D-H)". The Cedarjet Pages. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  12. ^ "Beirut International Airport Destinations in 1968 (I-O)". The Cedarjet Pages. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  13. ^ "Beirut International Airport Destinations in 1968 (P-S)". The Cedarjet Pages. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  14. ^ "Beirut International Airport Destinations in 1968 (T-Z)". The Cedarjet Pages. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Flight International 2008 World Airliner Census retrieved 21 January 2009.
  17. ^ MEA fleet list at Retrieved 2010-01-09.
  18. ^
  19. ^ MEA seeks up to eight 787s or A350s
  20. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  21. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  22. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  23. ^ "Criminal occurrence description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  24. ^ "Criminal Occurence description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 

External links

Simple English

Middle East Airlines (in Arabic: طيران الشرق الأوسط) is an airline based in Lebanon. It flies between the Middle East, Europe and Africa.



The Middle East Airlines opened for business on May 31, 1945. It was done so by Saeb Salam, with support from BOAC. MEA's work started on January 1, 1946 with a service between Beirut and Nicosia. Then, its airplanes started to fly to Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Cyprus. The company bought two Douglas DC-3 planes in mid-1946.

On September 7, 2006, Israel ended its 8-week long air blockade on Lebanon. A Middle East Airlines plane from Paris flew to the Rafik Hariri International Airport at 6:06 p.m. Lebanese time (3:03 p.m. GMT). MEA resumed its normal flight timetable on September 11, 2006.


Middle East Airlines flies its planes to these countries and their cities (since June 2006):




in France]]

New routes

With the beginning of its new Spring 2006 timetable, MEA has been flying to these cities very often:

  • Frankfurt am Main - 3x weekly (4x weekly in the summer) to 4x weekly (5x weekly in the summer)
  • Riyadh - 5x weekly to 6x weekly


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