Airbus voices confidence in Lebanon's MEA amid economic 'ordeal'

European plane maker backs Middle East Airlines as it delivers new aircraft despite ongoing coronavirus impact on aviation

European plane maker Airbus has insisted it has confidence in the Lebanese people to get their country out of the “ordeal” it is currently suffering as it delivered a new aircraft to Middle East Airline – Air Liban (MEA).

MEA has taken delivery of the Airbus A320 with manufacturer serial number 10,000, as part of an expansion plan that includes the purchase of nine new aircraft.

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The expansion comes at a difficult time for the aviation industry after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also comes as the Lebanese economy is gripped by a currency crisis as the country struggles to form a new government and Beirut comes to terms with the massive explosion which rocked the city on August 4.

MSN10,000 is the third A321neo to join the all Airbus MEA fleet, taking the fleet size to 18 aircraft. MEA received its first A321neo aircraft earlier in 2020 and will be taking another six A321neos over the coming months.

Hadi Al-Akoum, Airbus’ Middle East representative, praised the strong relationship with the Middle East Company, which has lasted more than 25 years, saying: “We’ve confidence in the Lebanese and in their ability to get Lebanon out of ordeal, and Middle East Airlines is a model for that.”

Mohammad El-Hout (pictured above), chairman and director general of MEA, told reporters at a ceremony at Beirut International Airport late on Friday evening: “It’s the third plane out of nine that Middle East Airlines will receive in succession during the next phase.”

El-Hout added: “All of this indicates a message of faith that Lebanon will remain and will continue, and today we also send a message of faith in our country and that investment must continue.”

He said out of a total of 19 aircraft originally purchased by the airline, nine deliveries will be deferred, pending issues of financing, the economic situation in Lebanon as well as passenger traffic.

But he added that during challenging circumstances, the new aircraft was “a ray of light, hope and motivation to surpass our nation’s difficulties”.

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