Flights to Lebanon to resume soon

Lebanon’s national flag-carrier Middle East Airlines and Royal Jordanian resumed flights last month to Beirut’s Rafiq Hariri International Airport, following five weeks of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

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By  Barbara Cockburn Published  September 1, 2006

Beirut Rafik Hariri International airport had been closed since July 13 when it was attacked by Israel, but airport authorities in Beirut have now given permission to allow flights in. All flights in and out of Beirut are required to first stop in Amman, Jordan, for security checks. A spokesman at Royal Jordanian said a secondary inspection is conducted at Amman by an airport security unit, in line with the international security inspection codes followed by airports worldwide. Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, may soon end its suspension of flights to Beirut. The airline cancelled services to the Lebanese capital. A team from the airline has visited Beirut to assess the situation on the ground for security, logistics and safety concerns, at the time of going to press, and said that it would resume flights soon. A statement from Gulf Air said: “Gulf Air is taking all steps to resume its flights to Lebanon as quickly as possible. Currently there are some technical and operational restrictions for airlines to operate in and out of Beirut International Airport, which we hope will be cleared soon. We are monitoring the developments very closely on a daily basis so that we can resume our flights at the earliest.” Gulf Air normally flies seven times a week to the Lebanese capital and with 11 flights a week during the busy summer period. Other airlines operating from Dubai are awaiting a decision from Beirut Airport authorities for commencing daily flights to the city. Emirates previously operated two daily flight to Beirut and is yet to make a decision. A spokesman said: “Our decision to restart regular flights to Beirut depends on the outcome of a meeting between Beirut Airport authorities.” Eithad, which operates daily flights to Beirut from Abu Dhabi, is also undecided about the issue. The airline cancelled all its flights from July 13. German airline, Lufthansa, resumed its flight operation to the Lebanese capital last month, but suspended flights again shortly afterwards. “Contrary to expectations, Lufthansa has not received the necessary rights to fly to the airport in the Lebanese capital,” said a Lufthansa spokesperson. “Consequently, flights to Beirut, scheduled to be resumed from 23 August 2006, must regrettably remain suspended at short notice until 31 August.”

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