To actively stop the spread of the coronavirus in and out of Lebanon, the country’s land and sea borders have been closed along with its airport. This is costing our national carrier, Middle East Airlines, millions of dollars, according to MEA chairman, Mohammed Hout.
Rafic Hariri International Airport officially closed its doors to the public on March 18th and will remain closed for at least another two weeks as the lockdown has been extended.
In a local radio interview, Hout stated that MEA made $1.3 billion as of 2019 and estimated that its daily losses amount to $1.3 million. However, he stressed that the company will continue to pay its employees’ salaries “until the money runs out.”
Despite the airport shutdown, some of the MEA staff are required to continue their vital roles, while others are on forced leave.
MEA’s Mideast Aircraft Services Company (MASCO) plays an important part in the maintenance of its fleet. All the hard workers must continue to ensure that MEA planes remain serviceable for when the airport reopens.
“It’s too early to project losses of the company at the end of 2020. It all depends on how long the crisis continues. But I can assure that MEA is ready to resume the flights once the government lifts the suspension of flights and reopens the airport,” Hout told The Daily Star.
Hout is hopeful that this is a phase that Lebanon will overcome. When that happens, the airlines will be ready to serve the country once again.
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