Likewise to any international airline, Middle East Airline’s tickets are now charged in fresh dollars. The company has also decided to halt direct sales in its offices to guarantee its sustainability and limit its losses amid the current economic and financial crisis.
Chairman of Middle East Airlines Mohamad El Hout said that the company pays 85 percent of its expenditures in fresh dollars, including airplane rentals, maintenance, airport rents, and fuel oil. He added that this step will help in keeping IATA as a mediator between travel agencies and airline companies that sell their tickets in dollars.
A citizen commented on the decision, and told Sawt Beirut International (SBI) reporter Gida Jubaili, that expatriates can afford paying the ticket as they are being paid in dollars, but how locals who are being paid in Lebanese pound, and their salaries equivalent to $100, afford a ticket from now on.
He added: “I have booked an airline ticket to Iraq from now for October, as I am afraid of the surge in prices.” Another one said that they are now hesitant and think several times before taking the decision to travel.” For instance, the price of an airline ticket to Dubai before the pandemic was between $300 and $350 dollars, but last year prices rose to $1,200; therefore Middle East Airline’s decision will return prices to the range that was before the crisis.
Travel and tourism agency owners confirm that this decision will impact the sector negatively, as the percentage of Lebanese that can still afford traveling will not exceed 3 percent. This means that the travel market will shrink. However, the decision will guarantee IATA’s continuity in the local market as well as other airlines.
An employee in an airline company said: “The decision has become effective as of today, and the prices has been adjusted.” He added that he supports this decision because previously there were 3 prices for the tickets, and he expected further competition between airlines in the coming days.
This decision may impact domestic tourism positively, as citizens will choose to spend their summer vacation in Lebanon rather than travelling abroad.