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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