Middle East Airlines signs deal with Turkish carrier

Airlines from Turkey and Lebanon sign codeshare agreement to expand commercial ties between the two nations as both look to boost tourism.

A Middle East Airlines jet lands in Beirut, Lebanon. The carrier has signed an agreement with Turkish Airlines. Hussein Malla / AP
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Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines (MEA) and Turkish Airlines signed a codeshare agreement that will expand the commercial partnership between the two countries.

Turkish Airlines will operate three daily flights while Middle East Airlines will have two daily flights.

The MEA chairman Mohamad El Hout said the deal was a big step in stimulating economic cooperation between Lebanon and Turkey, highlighting that it was between members of two different airline alliances, Star Alliance and SkyTeam.

Travel is made easier between the two countries as citizens from Lebanon and Turkey may obtain a visa upon arrival.

“We believe that this partnership with Middle East Airlines will not only maximise the travel opportunities offered to our passengers through the networks of both airlines but also bring enormous benefit from a commercial perspective,” said Bilal Eksi, the Turkish Airlines chairman and chief executive.

Both countries are hoping to increase passenger travel but, over the past year, Turkey’s tourism sector has suffered. The number of foreigners arriving in the country last year dropped by 30 per cent compared with the previous year, according to the general directorate of security.

Visitors from Lebanon increased by more than 20 per cent in 2015, but dipped by 2 per cent to 12,555 last year. Mr Eksi said he hoped the new partnership would be the first step to further enhance relations between the two airlines in the future.​