Middle East Airlines had been considering the Bombardier CSeries and the Airbus A319 as options for opening thinner routes, but says the thinking process has been halted as it works to cope with the effects of Syrian tensions.

Director general Mohamad El-Hout said during the IATA annual general meeting in Cape Town that "everything is stopped" while the Lebanese flag-carrier deals with the latest regional security situation.

Business-class traffic from the Gulf, in particular, has been hit, says El-Hout, while uncertainty arising from the Syrian conflict is also deterring tourism.

"But we are still making money," he insists.

The airline has halted a number of development initiatives, including an examination of the CSeries, which El-Hout describes as a "promising" aircraft. He says the airline is weighing it against the A319.

MEA still plans to begin introducing 10 A320neo-family aircraft from 2018, initially replacing the airline's older A321s. Its A320 fleet is "still very new", says El-Hout. MEA also operates long-haul A330s.

Based in Beirut, MEA has been a potential candidate investor for embattled neighbouring carrier Cyprus Airways, which is seeking a strategic partner as part of a restructuring effort to curb heavy losses.

Source: Flight Daily News