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LatinPlane
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MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 am

For your enjoyment, 60 Minutes made a report on Middle East Airlines in 1991, just as the Lebanese civil war had ended. The airline is truly a magnificent business case study of an airline that managed to operate and generate income for 15 years under the worst possible scenarios.

From Paris where it had set up a second base because Beirut was closed, MEA chartered its fleet of 707 and 720s to other airlines in need of extra lift and wet-leased its 742 Combis to stay in business while still providing limited reduced schedules out of Beirut. I don't think this could ever be replicated again in today's world. Prior to the war, MEA was the Emirates Airlines of the Middle East in its day, providing the first connecting bank hub at Beirut, which was the gateway to the Middle East and the Gulf at a time the region was booming in new money from its oil reserves.

For those that think we're seeing hell on earth for the airline industry, MEA proves that there's better days yet to come.

Image


video here: https://www.annedeboismilon.com/en/video/middleeastairlines
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chepos
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:16 am

Thank you so much for sharing, this post is a nice change of pace. I first learned about MEA as a kid, Airliners magazine ran a story about their still active 707 fleet. LAP from Paraguay was one of the few other pax airlines still flying the type at the time.

Back then I knew very little of Lebanon, my parents would talk about it being a war torn far away land and I had some friends in grade school whose families originated in Lebanon but that was about it when it came to my knowledge of Lebanon. That first glimpse of MEA in that magazine piqued my interest on the 707, MEA and Lebanon as a country.


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uconn99
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:30 am

Thanks for posting. My Great Grandfather was from Beirut and I hope to one day visit the city and country. There is so much history, good and bad. I love the food and while I carry a Lebanese last name I wish I knew more about the country and culture and could speak Arabic and French.
Last edited by uconn99 on Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
 
santi319
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:31 am

The Lebanese people are amazing, friendly resilient people, so I am not surprised at MEAs success in overcoming the worst of humanity.

I dream of the day when a MEA airliner lands in North America again. Can you name another country with so much diaspora scattered around the world?

Live Love Lebanon!
 
Blerg
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:35 am

What a brilliant report, thank you for sharing. MEA is Lebanon as it has shared all that it has gone through and it deserves all the support it can get from the government today because of all it has done in the past.

By the way, does anyone know what the fleet structure was at the beginning and at the end of the war?
 
Blerg
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:37 am

santi319 wrote:
The Lebanese people are amazing, friendly resilient people, so I am not surprised at MEAs success in overcoming the worst of humanity.

I dream of the day when a MEA airliner lands in North America again. Can you name another country with so much diaspora scattered around the world?

Live Love Lebanon!


I agree, Lebanese are some of the best people I've met. They are also the most cultured and civilized in all of Middle East.

As for diaspora, I think Armenia has more.
 
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chepos
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:38 am

santi319 wrote:
The Lebanese people are amazing, friendly resilient people, so I am not surprised at MEAs success in overcoming the worst of humanity.

I dream of the day when a MEA airliner lands in North America again. Can you name another country with so much diaspora scattered around the world?

Live Love Lebanon!

It has always amazed me how the Lebanese diaspora has spread throughout the world. In Latin America alone there is size-able Lebanese communities in many countries, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, etc. One of my closest friends grandparents hailed from Lebanon. And lets not forget, their cuisine is one of the best in the world.


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uconn99
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:39 am

santi319 wrote:
The Lebanese people are amazing, friendly resilient people, so I am not surprised at MEAs success in overcoming the worst of humanity.

I dream of the day when a MEA airliner lands in North America again. Can you name another country with so much diaspora scattered around the world?

Live Love Lebanon!


So very true! There seem to be Lebanese people in large concentration in many countries world wide. Myself having grown up in the Northeast USA, there is plenty as well as a large population in Detroit, I believe the largest in North America. Such amazing people, food, and proud history.

But to get back to the airline side, hopefully Beirut can be connected to the USA again in the near future. NYC and Detroit seem like logical adds if Political differences get sorted out but I wouldn't be surprised if Boston would be an option. Of course there are multiple hurtles to overcome before any US flights become reality and the virus sure wont help matters.
 
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chepos
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:44 am

uconn99 wrote:
santi319 wrote:
The Lebanese people are amazing, friendly resilient people, so I am not surprised at MEAs success in overcoming the worst of humanity.

I dream of the day when a MEA airliner lands in North America again. Can you name another country with so much diaspora scattered around the world?

Live Love Lebanon!


So very true! There seem to be Lebanese people in large concentration in many countries world wide. Myself having grown up in the Northeast USA, there is plenty as well as a large population in Detroit, I believe the largest in North America. Such amazing people, food, and proud history.

But to get back to the airline side, hopefully Beirut can be connected to the USA again in the near future. NYC and Detroit seem like logical adds if Political differences get sorted out but I wouldn't be surprised if Boston would be an option. Of course there are multiple hurtles to overcome before any US flights become reality and the virus sure wont help matters.

I can see Canada getting a flight to Beirut before the US gets one. AC was set to launch YUL-BEY sometime in the 2000’s. At the last minute the flight was pulled due to sec concerns?


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uconn99
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 6:04 am

chepos wrote:
uconn99 wrote:
santi319 wrote:
The Lebanese people are amazing, friendly resilient people, so I am not surprised at MEAs success in overcoming the worst of humanity.

I dream of the day when a MEA airliner lands in North America again. Can you name another country with so much diaspora scattered around the world?

Live Love Lebanon!


So very true! There seem to be Lebanese people in large concentration in many countries world wide. Myself having grown up in the Northeast USA, there is plenty as well as a large population in Detroit, I believe the largest in North America. Such amazing people, food, and proud history.

But to get back to the airline side, hopefully Beirut can be connected to the USA again in the near future. NYC and Detroit seem like logical adds if Political differences get sorted out but I wouldn't be surprised if Boston would be an option. Of course there are multiple hurtles to overcome before any US flights become reality and the virus sure wont help matters.

I can see Canada getting a flight to Beirut before the US gets one. AC was set to launch YUL-BEY sometime in the 2000’s. At the last minute the flight was pulled due to sec concerns?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Very true, I forgot Canada doesn't have flights, for some reason I figured they did. Montreal has a large Lebanese population and the french connection.
 
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rida79
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:40 am

Blerg wrote:
What a brilliant report, thank you for sharing. MEA is Lebanon as it has shared all that it has gone through and it deserves all the support it can get from the government today because of all it has done in the past.

By the way, does anyone know what the fleet structure was at the beginning and at the end of the war?



I believe they had a few B707's and a single B747-200. Then around 1992 or 93 they leased an Airbus A310.
 
Flyingsottsman
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 10:36 am

Beirut was once known as the Paris of the Meditation, a beautiful city I believe. I often wondered how MEA operated out of a war torn shattered city, I did not realise they were operating out of Paris. I to when I was in my teens read and heard about MEA and TMA cargo their yellow and green liveried 707s and wondered how they managed to keep flying in those horrible situations got a glimpse of one of their 707s at Heathrow back in December of 1985 on my first ever trip to Europe. I think for a very short time they had flights to Sydney but cant remember when.
 
brodeurprice
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:24 am

uconn99 wrote:
chepos wrote:
uconn99 wrote:

So very true! There seem to be Lebanese people in large concentration in many countries world wide. Myself having grown up in the Northeast USA, there is plenty as well as a large population in Detroit, I believe the largest in North America. Such amazing people, food, and proud history.

But to get back to the airline side, hopefully Beirut can be connected to the USA again in the near future. NYC and Detroit seem like logical adds if Political differences get sorted out but I wouldn't be surprised if Boston would be an option. Of course there are multiple hurtles to overcome before any US flights become reality and the virus sure wont help matters.

I can see Canada getting a flight to Beirut before the US gets one. AC was set to launch YUL-BEY sometime in the 2000’s. At the last minute the flight was pulled due to sec concerns?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Very true, I forgot Canada doesn't have flights, for some reason I figured they did. Montreal has a large Lebanese population and the french connection.


Is Montreal’s Lebanese community as big as, say, Dearborn’s though ? Everyone I know who travels back home hops on AF from DTW, surprised MEA doesn’t serve it as well. Although I suppose you could make the argument that the rest of Skyteam has it covered already...
 
santi319
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 6:53 pm

brodeurprice wrote:
uconn99 wrote:
chepos wrote:
I can see Canada getting a flight to Beirut before the US gets one. AC was set to launch YUL-BEY sometime in the 2000’s. At the last minute the flight was pulled due to sec concerns?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Very true, I forgot Canada doesn't have flights, for some reason I figured they did. Montreal has a large Lebanese population and the french connection.


Is Montreal’s Lebanese community as big as, say, Dearborn’s though ? Everyone I know who travels back home hops on AF from DTW, surprised MEA doesn’t serve it as well. Although I suppose you could make the argument that the rest of Skyteam has it covered already...

YES! AF sends packed 773 and MEA 330 to Paris everyday (pre-Covid).
 
Dominion301
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:22 pm

chepos wrote:
Thank you so much for sharing, this post is a nice change of pace. I first learned about MEA as a kid, Airliners magazine ran a story about their still active 707 fleet. LAP from Paraguay was one of the few other pax airlines still flying the type at the time.

Back then I knew very little of Lebanon, my parents would talk about it being a war torn far away land and I had some friends in grade school whose families originated in Lebanon but that was about it when it came to my knowledge of Lebanon. That first glimpse of MEA in that magazine piqued my interest on the 707, MEA and Lebanon as a country.


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I remember that article. I remember how it said they were the world's last 720 pax operator.
 
LatinPlane
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri Apr 24, 2020 8:56 pm

chepos wrote:
Thank you so much for sharing, this post is a nice change of pace. I first learned about MEA as a kid, Airliners magazine ran a story about their still active 707 fleet. LAP from Paraguay was one of the few other pax airlines still flying the type at the time.

Back then I knew very little of Lebanon, my parents would talk about it being a war torn far away land and I had some friends in grade school whose families originated in Lebanon but that was about it when it came to my knowledge of Lebanon. That first glimpse of MEA in that magazine piqued my interest on the 707, MEA and Lebanon as a country.


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Wonderful report by Henry Tenby.

https://www.henrytenby.com/beirut-or-bust-another-707-adventure-by-henry-tenby/
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chepos
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MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:18 pm

LatinPlane wrote:
chepos wrote:
Thank you so much for sharing, this post is a nice change of pace. I first learned about MEA as a kid, Airliners magazine ran a story about their still active 707 fleet. LAP from Paraguay was one of the few other pax airlines still flying the type at the time.

Back then I knew very little of Lebanon, my parents would talk about it being a war torn far away land and I had some friends in grade school whose families originated in Lebanon but that was about it when it came to my knowledge of Lebanon. That first glimpse of MEA in that magazine piqued my interest on the 707, MEA and Lebanon as a country.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Wonderful report by Henry Tenby.

https://www.henrytenby.com/beirut-or-bust-another-707-adventure-by-henry-tenby/

Thank you so much for posting this, it took me back like 25 years, to when I first read this article as a kid. I must say, I miss the heyday of Airliners magazine and Airways, back then (the 90’s) those publications provided great insight on the industry worldwide.


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LatinPlane
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Mon May 04, 2020 7:13 pm

I found this interesting news footage video. Interesting MEA ops at BEY while under civil war in 1986. You can see the schedules of MEA planes still operating as the TWA 727 is sitting at BEY during the TWA Flight 847 hijack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh6H_eNuB90&t=140s
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usdcaguy
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Mon May 04, 2020 9:32 pm

LatinPlane wrote:
I found this interesting news footage video. Interesting MEA ops at BEY while under civil war in 1986. You can see the schedules of MEA planes still operating as the TWA 727 is sitting at BEY during the TWA Flight 847 hijack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh6H_eNuB90&t=140s


Interesting to see the yellow American school bus on the tarmac not far from the 727 and the split-level truck-driven bus in blue. Terrifying time for those on the plane and the man whose body was dumped on the tarmac. Seems weird that MEA was allowed to operate while TWA had its plane held hostage 50 yds away, but I suppose operations would still be allowed from an American airport if something similar had happened in the US.
 
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jsnww81
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Mon May 04, 2020 9:38 pm

LatinPlane wrote:
I found this interesting news footage video. Interesting MEA ops at BEY while under civil war in 1986. You can see the schedules of MEA planes still operating as the TWA 727 is sitting at BEY during the TWA Flight 847 hijack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh6H_eNuB90&t=140s


Very cool look into the now-demolished BEY terminal during the war. I didn't realize that today's boarding piers were under construction all the way back then - I assumed work got started on them after the war wrapped up.
 
Caymanair
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Tue May 05, 2020 2:03 am

WOW! Things have definitely changed. The airport, the airline, and the city... I recognised nothing.
 
YALAS
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Tue May 05, 2020 11:29 am

Amazing footage. Always been interested in MEA during the war time.

I do have a question, however. How come during the early 1980s when the war was in full swing there were still a large number of airlines serving BEY? I’ve noticed that Austrian Airlines, Sabena, SAS and Air France still has operations there as late as 1982/83. Was it because of the large diaspora or was it safer to operate back then still? I notice by the late 1980s most of them had gone. Genuinely curious so if anyone has any information! Thanks!
 
Cedric13
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Thu May 14, 2020 10:48 pm

YALAS wrote:
Amazing footage. Always been interested in MEA during the war time.

I do have a question, however. How come during the early 1980s when the war was in full swing there were still a large number of airlines serving BEY? I’ve noticed that Austrian Airlines, Sabena, SAS and Air France still has operations there as late as 1982/83. Was it because of the large diaspora or was it safer to operate back then still? I notice by the late 1980s most of them had gone. Genuinely curious so if anyone has any information! Thanks!


Airfrance has never really stopped service to Beirut even during the toughest times because the route is always full and profitable...
It is in part due to a large diaspora and Lebanon being an ex French colony.
 
Cedric13
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Thu May 14, 2020 10:54 pm

santi319 wrote:
brodeurprice wrote:
uconn99 wrote:

Very true, I forgot Canada doesn't have flights, for some reason I figured they did. Montreal has a large Lebanese population and the french connection.


Is Montreal’s Lebanese community as big as, say, Dearborn’s though ? Everyone I know who travels back home hops on AF from DTW, surprised MEA doesn’t serve it as well. Although I suppose you could make the argument that the rest of Skyteam has it covered already...

YES! AF sends packed 773 and MEA 330 to Paris everyday (pre-Covid).


In the summer (pre-covid), BEY is connected to Paris by 2x daily AF 777 (1 daily all year round), 2x daily MEA a330 (All year round) and 4x weekly TO 738 (3x weekly all year round). In addition to that there are 3x weekly AF a320-a321 flights from Marseille to Beirut, 2x weekly AF a320 from Nice to Beirut, 4x weekly MEA a320 from Nice to Beirut and a weekly Lyon to Beirut by TO. So the SkyTeam connection from France to Beirut is huge.
 
LatinPlane
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri May 15, 2020 4:43 am

Blerg wrote:
What a brilliant report, thank you for sharing. MEA is Lebanon as it has shared all that it has gone through and it deserves all the support it can get from the government today because of all it has done in the past.

By the way, does anyone know what the fleet structure was at the beginning and at the end of the war?


Their fleet in 1975 at the start of the civil war was pretty sizable in the region. In 1982, during the war, the airline lost 5 Boeing 720s and 1 Boeing 707 when Israel invaded Lebanon and attacked Beirut airport. The airline moved its ops from Beirut to Paris Orly and charted its remaining fleet out on wet leases. Interestingly, it replaced all of these aircraft with 6 Boeing 707s bought directly from American Airlines, which was retiring their 707 fleet at the time. By 1996, the airline had 16 aircraft composed of 3 owned 742-Combi, 8 707s owned, and 5 A310s on lease. The airline made its first operational profit until 2002, at which time the airline had shrank to just 9 aircraft composed of 5 used and leased A310s 3 A300s and 1 A320.
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CarbonFibre
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Fri May 15, 2020 9:31 pm

The Boeing 720 livery is back! https://flic.kr/p/2j2os1W
 
ME720
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Re: MEA - Report: Post Lebanon's Civil War

Sun May 17, 2020 6:22 am

CarbonFibre wrote:
The Boeing 720 livery is back! https://flic.kr/p/2j2os1W


The best livery they ever had. I wish they would reintroduce it.

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