Lebanon Businessnews News

Three private airliners suspended...or not?
Minister says the decision was due to breaches of technical specifications raising safety concerns
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The Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Ghazi Aridi, announced Monday (September 12) that he has pulled back the licenses of three private charter airline companies in the country.

Imperial Jet and Open Sky Aviation are two of the companies included in the Minister’s decision.

The identity of the third company remains unknown.

The minister’s decision to withdraw the license from Imperial Jet was made two years ago, following reported “safety specifications violations.” An official at Imperial Jet, which is owned by Abed Jaouni, said that the company had won a court case against the Ministry earlier this year. He said the company is due to receive a “big amount of money in compensation.”

A source of the private airlines sector said that Open Sky Aviation did not really lose its license. The source said that the company, managed by Haitham Azhari, owns a six-passenger jet which it no longer uses and thus lost the license to operate the mentioned plane. “Open Sky Aviation has only lost its ‘Airtaxi’ license, which is obtained for planes that carry up to nine passengers,” the source said. The source said that the company still has its ‘Commuter’ license, which allows it to fly jets carrying between 10 and 19 passengers.

Minister Aridi made clear, following a meeting with private airliner companies, that he is ready to do over the same measure if similar breaches were spotted. He said that “12 Lebanese airliner companies are currently operating in the country, some of which including Arab investors.”

According to Aridi, the private jet business is growing but requires firmer control. “Since the number of companies operating the sector has grown, further supervision and a number of reforms have become mandatory,” Aridi said.
He emphasized the need to maintain commitment to technical requirements and administrative specifications “so as to ensure the safety of the air travel sector.”

Date Posted: Sep 12, 2011
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