The Lebanese government approved the “open skies” policy at Beirut International Airport (BIA), thereby removing restrictions on aircraft capacity and the frequency of flights to and from the airport.
The new policy will allow international flights to carry passengers, cargo and mail from one location to another through BIA. It should also help raise the number of passengers using the airport and help attract tourists, boost trade and other areas of the service sector.
The new policy would also contribute to Lebanon’s accession to the World Trade Organization and allow tour operators to create travel packages to Lebanon, helping hotels, restaurants and other related sectors. The open skies policy is considered to be a building block of liberalization and improving economic productivity.
Lebanon has been restricting flights and passenger movement in and out of Beirut to protect the money losing state-owned Middle East Airlines. Aviation specialists forecast that the new policy would improve passenger traffic at Beirut by 10-15 percent next summer.
The new $450 million airport has a capacity of six million passengers but only about 1.5 million go through it annually. Protectionism has caused the airport to lag far behind regional airports like Dubai, which attracts 10 million passengers annually. — (Lebanon Invest )