Lebanese flag carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) is cancelling flights and evacuating a large part of its fleet from its hub at Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) due to the increased security risks in the region.
In addition to the conflict in the Gaza Strip, the last few days have seen renewed fighting along the border between Israel and Lebanon. The Israeli air force has also targeted Damascus and Aleppo airports in nearby Syria.
In view of this situation, as of October 23, 2023, MEA relocated 14 aircraft out of its 24-strong fleet overseas.
The first wave departed on October 17, 2023, and comprised five aircraft, which were sent to Istanbul (IST). These were followed by four more aircraft which are now reportedly at Larnaca International Airport (LCA), in Cyprus. Other aircraft have been shifted to Doha, Muscat, Kuwait, and Paris.
MEA also announced on the weekend of October 21-22, 2023, that it may cancel up to 80% of its scheduled flight program due to increasing insurance costs. Mant of the affected flights are to destinations in the Middle East, such as Cairo, Baghdad, Amman, Najaf, and Doha. The airline has also loosened its flight change and cancellation policies for passengers.
MEA currently operates an all-Airbus fleet of 22 aircraft (nine A320, nine A321neo and four A330-200 aircraft) and it is expected to become the first A321XLR operator as soon as the aircraft is certified in 2024.