A Middle East Airlines plane, which took off from Beirut heading to Heathrow Airport in London, was forced into an emergency landing in Athens due to an engine issue.
All passengers were evacuated and made to wait for hours, reportedly “in a small room” at the airport in Athens for the MEA to send another aircraft while the defaulted one headed back to Beirut on Saturday with no passengers.
In a phone call with al-Jadeed TV, According to Civil Aviation Director General Fadi al-Hassan to al-Jadeed TV, “the passengers who were on board were transferred to another plane and they are now in London.”
However, the passengers who had disembarked from the aircraft were stuck in a waiting room for hours, according to passenger Youssef Safieddine, who was on board the plane.
Another aircraft was sent by the MEA “12 hours” after the flight arrived in Athens, a long delay during which the passengers “were trapped in a small room,” Safieddine said.
This is the second issue involving the MEA in recent weeks.
On Aug. 10, a Madrid-Beirut MEA flight, whose captain was Abed el-Hout, son of the airline’s chairman Mohammad el-Hout, failed to respond to radio calls over Greece.
A “Renegade” alert was triggered following a report from the NATO air traffic control center in Spain to intercept the civilian plane in question, compelling Greek fighter jets to intercept it and escort it over Greece.
According to Beirut, however, there was no failure on the part of the Lebanese pilots.