Lebanese national flag carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) announced operating profits of $58m in 2012, constituting an increase of 43.6% from $40.4m in 2011, but a decrease from $90.6m in 2010, $118.3m in 2009 and $101.1m in 2008. It attributed the decline in profits relative to the 2008-2010 period to the deterioration in the domestic political and security situation that has adversely impacted the number of tourist arrivals.
Further, MEA indicated that the number of passengers from Gulf Cooperation Council countries who travel business class dropped by 40% so far this year, and considered that the increase in the number of Syrian passengers does not offset the overall decline in passenger activity. Further, MEA said that its objective this year consists of avoiding shifting from operating profits to losses. It noted that it employs 4,500 persons, including 1,900 persons in the mother company and 3,500 in affiliated companies. It is not possible to independently verify the actual financial state of MEA, as it does not publish its detailed balance sheet or income statement.
MEA, which is 99% owned by the Central Bank of Lebanon, has currently a fleet of 18 modern Airbus planes and flies to more than 38 destinations in Europe, the Gulf region, the Middle East and Africa. Also, it signed last year a Memorandum of Understanding to purchase 10 new Airbus planes at an estimated cost of $1bn.
LTW – Byblos Bank