History and Network
In 1945, Middle East Airlines was established and launched its first service from Beirut to the neighboring cities of Syria, Cyprus, Egypt then Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other destinations in the Gulf. In 1963, after the merger with Air Liban, MEA added new European, Middle Eastern and West African destinations to its worldwide network.
Despite closure of Beirut International Airport during Lebanon’s civil war between 1975 and 1990, MEA managed to survive by leasing aircrafts and seconding staff to international airline companies. With the return to normality in 1990, MEA succeeded in reinstating service to all its previous destinations, strengthened and improved its network to Europe, Middle East and the Gulf.
From 1998 to 2002, MEA implemented its largest restructuring ever, turning around the company from huge annual losses reaching 87 Million dollars in 1997 to achieve a net profit of 22 Million dollars in 2003. In 2004, MEA achieved a net profit of 50 Million dollars. The business plan included the rationalization of MEA’s network, streamlining its purchasing policy, cost reductions at all levels of the airline, the launch of the frequent flyer program and yield management systems, as well as a number of other measures destined to modernize and restructure the airline.
In 2005, and in spite of the unstable political situation, MEA was able to achieve a profit of US $ 46 Million.
In 2006, MEA succeeded in achieving around US $ 39 Million in spite of the Israeli aggression which resulted in US $ 45 Million losses (US $ 16 Million direct losses and US $ 29 indirect losses).
At the onset of the July 2006 war, Rafic Hariri International Airport-Beirut was the first target to be hit by the Israeli air raid. During the aggression which lasted from 12 July 2006 till 16 August 2006, MEA operated regular flights from / to Damascus International Airport and later via Amman Airport defying the imposed air blockade (17 August 2006 till 7 September 2006).
The war circumstances required immediate and exceptional decisions that would enable the carrier to continue to serve its passengers and preserve the highest safety and maintenance standards in order to remain bearer of the Cedar of Lebanon to all areas of the world.
In 2007, MEA Chairman-Director General Mohamad El-Hout announced the carrier’s capital increase, from 279 billion L.L to 550 billion L.L (US $ 367 Million), as well as the purchase of 10 aircraft: 4 A 330’s and 6 A320’s. A profit of US $ 62 Million was achieved in 2007.
MEA continued its expansion with the delivery of its first owned Airbus A330 in June 2008, with its new livery bearing the colors of Lebanese flag, with its elegant style and comfort. A step of major significance was also made when the cornerstone of the Regional MEA Training Center was set at Rafik Hariri International Airport Beirut in December 2008.
MEA's profit improved to US $ 92 Million in 2008, despite the global financial meltdown. The airline carried 1,375,000 passengers. Along with the expansion of the fleet, plans were made for improved frequencies to existing destinations and for the resumption of flights to Berlin and Baghdad, a historically important destination .
MEA welcomed 2009 with the delivery of its first new A320 in January followed by the new A330 in February 2009. Which is the first MEA aircraft to carry a Lebanese registration, OD-MEA, since 30 years. The airline also took delivery of 2 additional Airbus A320s and 2 more A330s, the last A330 was delivered in May 2009.
On the 5th of December, 2009 Middle East Airlines (MEA) general assembly unanimously re-elected Mr. Mohamad El-Hout as Chairman of the national carrier for another three years.
In 2010, MEA took delivery of 2 new A320’s: The first A320 in May 2010 and the second A320 in June 2010. Along with the expansion of its fleet, MEA has added Baghdad, Erbil, and Al Medina to its network and increased its frequencies to existing destinations and resumed flights to Berlin and Brussels.
In June 2012, MEA officially joined SkyTeam Alliance.
SkyTeam is a global airline alliance providing customers from member airlines access to an extensive global network with more destinations, more frequencies and more connectivity. SkyTeam offers its 552 million annual customers over 15,000 daily flights to 1,000 destinations in 187 countries.
Extension of MEA’s exclusivity on September 2012
In 2012 MEA signed a contract to purchase 10 neo A320-321, delivery expected in 2018.
In 2013 MEA launched 2 new routes: Yerevan and Najaf. In July 2013 MEA introduced the 3rd daily frequency to Amman.
On the 2nd of October 2013 MEA announced the arrival of its first Aircraft A320 MSN 5746 with the SkyTeam Livery.
In 2014 MEA launched its 3rd weekly flights to Basra – Iraq and its second daily flight to London .
In 2015 MEA inaugurated on the 17th of March Middle East Aviation Academy and on the 15th of May its new Cargo Center at Rafic Hariri International Airport – Beirut.
On the 29th of May 2015 MEA celebrated its 70th Anniversary.
In the first week of Jan 2016, MEA Group took delivery of the first Legacy 500 Private Jet registration: OD-CXJ delivered from Embraer in São José dos Campos Brazil. The new Legacy 500 will inaugurate the VIP charter services at Cedar Executive, Middle East Airlines subsidiary dedicated to VIP Private Jet travel .
As always, MEA offers its customers very luxurious services both on ground and on board, reflecting the Lebanese culture and hospitality.
Middle East Airlines offers direct connections between Beirut and the following destinations:
Brussels, Larnaca*, Paris*, London°°, Frankfurt*, Rome, Milan, Athens, Geneva*, Dusseldorf**, Nice**, Copenhagen**.
Jeddah°°, Riyadh°°, Dubai°°, Abu Dhabi*, Dammam*, Kuwait°°, Doha*, Madinah.
Amman°°°, Al Najaf, Basra, Baghdad*, Cairo°°, Istanbul°°, Erbil*, Sharm el Sheikh**, Yerevan.
Abidjan, Lagos, Kano, Accra.
* Daily Flights. Paris: 4 Flights per day
°° 2 Flights per day
°°° 3 Flights per day