MEA reverses decision to accept only dollars, hours after announcing it

Hundreds of customers had flocked to MEA offices to purchase tickets before the decision was due to go into effect Monday.
by Tala Ramadan

16 February 2020 | 19:20

Source: by Annahar

  • by Tala Ramadan
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 16 February 2020 | 19:20

A Lebanese Middle East Airlines (MEA) plane flies over Beirut (Facebook Photo)

BEIRUT: State-owned Middle East Airlines reversed on Sunday a decision to only accept dollars just hours after announcing it. The decision, which was reversed at the request of Prime Minister Hassan Diab, sparked discontent among Lebanese citizens.

Hundreds of customers had flocked to MEA offices to purchase tickets before the now-reversed decision was due to go into effect Monday.

Earlier in the day, MEA issued a statement announcing that 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.

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.

Following the MEA's first announcement, 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 had issued a statement arguing that the move to only accept dollars came 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, among others.

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 Lira.

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