Pilots and other staff employed by Lebanese flag-carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) are calling for the dismissal of the entire board including chairman Mohammed Hout, accusing them of mismanagement.

The move is part of efforts by staff to prevent the planned lay-off of up to 1,400 of the 4,200 workforce in an effort to stem worsening financial losses. The pilots, in a letter to Lebanon's Central Bank, which owns 99% of MEA, allege "the chairman is solely to blame for the company's current financial status and disintegration".

Since 1996 when the Central Bank acquired the airline, MEA has lost $400 million. With $70 million being spent each year on salaries, the management argues that the workforce must be cut.

MEA's difficulties are due in part to an accumulation of setbacks suffered since the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975. Since the war ended in 1990, the return of business confidence to Beirut has been slower than predicted. Meanwhile, MEA finds itself with a size of workforce appropriate to when Beirut was a thriving business centre.

Source: Flight International