BEIRUT: After a controversial decision to only accept payments in U.S dollars, hundreds of customers flocked to the offices of the state-owned Middle East Airlines (MEA) on Sunday to purchase tickets before the decision comes into effect Monday.
According to a statement released by MEA, all airlines operating in Lebanon will only accept payments in U.S dollars.
Credit and debit cards, along with checks, will continue to be accepted “provided that the operation is in foreign currency," the statement added.
Overload fees and reservation amendments fees can still be paid in Lebanese pounds at Rafic Hariri International Airport.
Lebanese have borne the brunt of a massive dollar shortage across Lebanon as the value of the Lebanese lira continues to drop. It has lost more than 30 percent on the foreign exchange market since nationwide protests broke out in October 2019.
Concerned Lebanese took to social media to voice their discontent while Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil has called the move “illegal.”
The Association of Travel and Tourist Agents in Lebanon issued a statement arguing that the move comes amid continued efforts to solve the problem of unfair competition between airlines, members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and travel agencies, which almost toppled the sector and its employees.
MEA had been accepting payments in Lebanese lira, delivering a hit to travel agents.
The Association also thanked "all those who contributed to solving this issue" including political officials, led by President General Michel Aoun.
Later in the day, the president's office issued a statement condemning the move, saying that he had urged the Association to follow in the footsteps of MEA and accept payments in Lebanese lira. Instead, both MEA and the association took the decision to only accept dollars.
He also called on the judiciary to intervene and settle the matter.
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