Lebanon’s Cabinet Plans to Complete Privatization of MEA ‘within a Year’
The Lebanese government is determined to restructure loss-making national carrier Middle East Airlines and find a strategic partner for it before the end of the year, Transport and Public Works Minister Najib Mikati was quoted as saying by the Daily Star..
“We have told the management of MEA to present us with a comprehensive solution to the company which addresses all problems and solutions before the end of April,” Mikati told The Daily Star in an interview earlier this week.
Restructuring MEA will be a good litmus test of how able the government of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is to cut the public payroll and end job security for thousands of non-performing political appointees.
Mikati said that MEA can still become a profitable company if politicians stopped intervening in the policies and decisions of the management.
“The government has authorized me to set up a new airline company within two months if the current management of MEA fails to come up with effective solutions,” Mikati said, meaning that the entire management of MEA could be changed.
He added that the government had no intention of spending more money on expanding the airline.
With more than $400 million in accumulated losses since 1996, MEA has been earmarked for privatization by the Hariri government to relieve the Central Bank, which owns more than 99 percent of the airline and has been absorbing its losses.
The government closed last month the official TV station, Tele Leban, laying off hundreds of employees and promising a reopening before May – Albawaba.com