For the earlier parts of this blog series see:
Not all the airlines involved in the Israeli attack were as lucky as MEA. Lebanese International Airlines had been in service since 1953 and had acquired a pair of ex-American Airlines Convair 990s in 1966. Unfortunately the loss of both of these aircraft, plus its DC-7s, was the death knell for the airline. With no aircraft and few other assets MEA was able to purchase LIA's traffic rights on April 23, 1969. All 150 of its employees also joined MEA, which was granted exclusive rights to carry passengers under the Lebanese flag until 1989 (later extended until 2012).
A new fleet was also in the offing and MEA successfully made arrangements with American Airlines to replace its lost aircraft on a more permanent basis with Convair 990s. Six aircraft were acquired in a lease/purchase deal with the first arriving in June 1969. The aircraft were registered OD-AFF-AFK and labelled as 'Cedar Jets'. They could be seen operating from Beirut to Ankara, Aman, Cairo, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Geneva, Instanbul, Milan, Paris, Vienna, and Zurich. Despite all the ructions, prior to the Israeli action MEA was scheduled to post a profit in 1968 and emplanements during 1969 soared to 545,272 passengers.
Sadly the Convair 990s were not long for the MEA fleet. Pleased with its new 707s the airline wanted to standardise the fleet and an agreement was reached with American by which the CV-990s would be replaced from December 1970 with ex-American Boeing 720-023Bs. Thirteen ex-AA 720-023Bs would join the fleet with the last Convairs leaving by March 1972.
Another positive note for MEA was the offering of shares to its employees in 1971. Nearly 3,000 employees from 28 nations took up partial ownership. By this stage MEA was the second largest employer in the whole of Lebanon. In coming years it would need the hard work and dedication of its staff more than ever.
Above: MEA's 1972 timetable paints a sunny picture of an increasingly bleak situation.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: