|Founded||31 May 1945|
|Commenced operations||1 January 1946|
|Hubs||Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport|
|Frequent-flyer program||Cedar Miles|
|Fleet size||24 (22 commercial airliners + 2 private jets)|
|Parent company||Banque du Liban|
|Key people||Mohammad El Hout (chairman & director general)|
|Employees||2,929 (MEA, MEAG, MASCO) (2016)|
Middle East Airlines – Air Liban S.A.L. (Arabic: طيران الشرق الأوسط ـ الخطوط الجوية اللبنانية, romanized: Ṭayyarān al-Sharq al-Awsaṭ – al-Khuṭūṭ al-jawiyyah al-lubnāniyyah), more commonly known as Middle East Airlines (MEA) (Arabic: طيران الشرق الأوسط, romanized: Ṭayyarān al-Sharq al-Awsaṭ), is the flag carrier of Lebanon, with its head office in Beirut, near Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport. It operates scheduled international flights to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa from its base at Rafic Hariri International Airport.
Middle East Airlines (MEA) is a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance. MEA expressed its interest in becoming a SkyTeam associate member in early 2006 at a press conference in New York. On 28 February 2011, the airline signed the partnership agreement with SkyTeam at a ceremony in Beirut, and officially joined the alliance on 28 June 2012, becoming its 17th member and the second member airline in the Middle East.
Middle East Airlines - Air Liban was founded on 31 May 1945 by Saeb Salam and Fawzi EL-Hoss 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 - 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 due to the Lebanese Civil War between 1975 and 1991 but continued services despite multiple closures of the base at Beirut International Airport. Airbus A310-300s were acquired in 1993 and 1994, followed by an A321-200 in 1997 and the A330-200 (which replaced the A310s) in 2003.
The airline has introduced self-check-in kiosks at Beirut 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.
In November 2011, MEA's pilots union staged a 48-hour strike after a captain undergoing cancer treatment was dismissed shortly after going on sick leave.
On 28 June 2012, Middle East Airlines joined the SkyTeam alliance to become its 17th member and the second in the Middle East following Saudia. 5,000 staff are employed across the airline group. The central bank of Lebanon, Banque du Liban, owns a majority share of 99.50%.
Middle East Airlines flies to 31 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. In addition, Medina is served seasonally, while Mykonos is offered as a seasonal charter destination.
MEA has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:
MEA also participates in SNCF's (French National Railways) tgvair program.
MEA (excluding Cedar Executive) operates an all-Airbus fleet. As of March 2023[update], it consists of the following aircraft:
|Airbus A320-200||9||—||24||102||126||OD-MRL is the 5000th Airbus A320 family aircraft built. (Currently painted in Retro livery)|
|Airbus A321neo||9||2||28||132||160||T7-ME3 is the 10,000th Airbus A320 family aircraft built.|
|Airbus A321XLR||—||4||—||—||150||Launch customer.|
Three to be delivered in 2024 and one in 2025.
|Airbus A330-900neo||—||4||42||238||280||To be delivered in 2026.|
|Cedar Executive Fleet|
|Embraer Legacy 500||2||—||12||—||12||OD-CXJ and OD-CXL|
Middle East Airlines - Air Liban firmed up its order for ten Airbus A320neo family aircraft (five A320neo and five A321neo) in January 2013. The order for the A320neo was later converted to five more A321neo aircraft. The first A321neo was delivered on 10 July 2020; the third, delivered 9 October 2020, was the 10,000th A320 family aircraft produced.
On 12 December 2018, the then-Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, signed an order with engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce Holdings for four Airbus A330-900s. During the 2019 Paris Air Show, the airline became the launch customer for the A321XLR: four XLRs were ordered, intended for use on routes to Africa and Asia.
Cedar Executive, MEA's business jet subsidiary, took delivery of its first Embraer Legacy 500 on 5 January 2016.
In 2011, Middle East Airlines - Air Liban 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 offer additional benefits, including guaranteed economy seat reservation.
Cedar Miles can be earned and redeemed on all MEA flights and on 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.
MEA owns the following subsidiaries, which are operated independently:
In addition, MEA owns 77.5% of the Lebanese Beirut Airport Catering Company (LBACC), the only catering provider at Beirut International Airport.