MEA cut-price strategy develops ex-UK traffic

MEA cut-price strategy develops ex-UK traffic

MIDDLEEast Airlines has cut return fares and improved transit facilities at its Beirut hub to raise ex-UK passenger numbers.

The carrier predicts traffic travelling point to point from Heathrow to Beirut will tail off later this month.

To make up the shortfall MEA has started a UK campaign to increase the number ofpassengers connecting in Lebanon to other Middle East destinations.

Commercial manager UK George Macarty revealed only about 10% of traffic from Heathrow currently transits in Beirut. He hopes initiatives launched this month will boost this figure to 30%.

He said:"Fares have been cut to £270 for our night flights as the Beirut traffic dies down.

"We expect increased numbers to onward destinations like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait."

The reduced fare compares with the usual £308 price. Flight prices during the day are also cut, from £408 to £299.

MEA has just completed a new transit lounge at Beirut for connecting passengers. Macarty said the lounge has cut connections to 1hr 20mins.

For passengers wanting two-centre trips, MEA offers a $75 stopover package in Beirut which gives accommodation in a four-star hotel before customers fly on to their final destination.

The airline has also reconfigured its ex-Heathrow Airbus A310 fleet to give six additional business-class seats.

The new 36-seat cabin should improve yields. Seat pitch in business has also improved, from 42ins to 48ins.

MEA recently increased frequency on the Heathrow-Beirut service from five flights a week to nine a week (Travel Weekly July 12).

British Airways franchise carrier British Mediterranean Airways has now matched this schedule.

The new frequency, said Macarty, has helped UKpassenger numbers increase by 7% this year. Last year, the airline handled 40,000 on the Heathrow-Beirut route.


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