Beirut Airport: The fall precedes the summer season

Nada Ayoub- News –

Beirut International Airport is preparing to host more than one million passengers in the next three months. Although the number represents about 85% of the number of visitors coming in the same period of 2019, the condition of the airport deteriorated, with the capacity to meet the challenge of passing the tourist season with as few “scandals” as possible.

Lebanon’s only air port suffers from structural problems that have accumulated over the years. Its carrying capacity has been reduced due to negligence and negligence in maintenance and development. Electricity supply from Electricité du Liban is almost non-existent, while other sources are depleted and this is negatively reflected in the air conditioning hours. The airport operations department is exhausted due to a lack of much needed civilian and military personnel. Their salaries are not enough to cover the cost of moving to their job centers. Above all comes the problem of financing for maintenance and operation, which is no longer sufficient to a minimum.

All of this comes as Lebanon expects to receive more than a million visitors in the summer of 2022. Eyes have been drawn from this season, waiting for the dollars it will bring to the country that will revive, albeit temporarily, some of the sectors his. This season also comes after two years of stagnation of air traffic and travel in the light of the Corona pandemic, which means that the situation at the airport will be chaos.

The characteristics of the summer season began to appear last May, when Beirut International Airport received about 250,000 passengers, between arrival and departure. The number is expected to increase by 20% to reach around 300,000 passengers at the end of this month and 400,000 in July and August. On average per day, the airport will carry between 10,000 and 12,000 passengers per day. According to the airport director, Fadi Al-Hassan, this number does not exceed the capacity of the airport, recalling that in 2019, air traffic and passengers exceeded the figures expected for this year.
But in 2019, passenger flights were marked by problems that worsened instead of being resolved. Electricity supply, for example, will depend on three methods, according to Labor Minister Ali Hamiyah: “Electricité du Liban, hydroelectric power and the use of private generators for emergencies.” Hamiyah believes that “there is no problem in terms of energy, as cooperation with the Ministry of Energy is being developed to save the airport from a case of a complete power outage, or what is known as a power outage.” However, the instability of hydropower waves impedes the ability to use air conditioners due to the risk of their failure, and the rationing of electricity by Electricité du Liban for up to 24 hours sometimes, has led to the fatigue of generators originally intended for emergencies, and not for daily coverage of hours of continuous downtime, with the exception of Suffering in terms of fuel insurance, the price of which is accelerating and the cost of running it increases exponentially.
In one of the last hearings, before the government’s job turned into a caretaker, it agreed to give the Ministry of Public Works and Transport $ 10 million out of the $ 93 million required by a diet to carry out maintenance work at Beirut airport. . The amount not exceeding 11% of the current needs of the airport will be allocated by the minister, according to priorities, for the maintenance of automatic landing gear, for securing flights and for the rehabilitation of luggage tractors. In terms of expansion, Hamiyah indicates that within a month it will launch an international tender, worth about $ 70 million, to build a new passenger cabin for low-cost charter flights, as well as for pilgrims, who will to be implemented by private individuals. sector and “who frees his money”, provided that He and the Lebanese state share a share of the profits. That is, through partnerships with the private sector – the phrase used to mitigate the impact of the word privatization.

“Things need daily follow-up, and this is what we will do to overcome the obstacles,” Hamiya claims, thanking the staff of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation at their various centers for “their work and activity.” tireless “, which opens the door. for a question about the reality of their attendance at their work centers and their regularity in light of the high cost of compensation, transportation and the low value of their salaries, like the rest of the public sector employees. These persons finally raised their voices, after the technical interest unit at the airport announced in the evening the suspension of air traffic, demanding that the salaries of its employees be taken into account. Following meetings with stakeholders, the action was postponed on the basis of promises to work on a specific formula that would provide additional returns for them. This poses a challenge to airport management in terms of its ability to achieve regularity and secure rights. In this regard, Al-Hassan says: “Employment falls on the shoulders of 240 employees out of 900 in the Directorate of Civil Aviation. They carry a physical and financial burden that is beyond their means. However, we wish them to continue working. ” Workers on security wires who pick up checkpoints and stamp passports are not in better condition, and the commander of the airport security apparatus, Nabil Abdullah, drew attention to the increase in their number as a condition for continuity.

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