Qatar Airways resumes flights to Beirut

Airline's statement doesn't address embargo or Israeli clearance issues.

Qatar Airplane 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Qatar Airplane 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Qatar Airways announced Sunday that it would resume flights to Beirut. The national carrier of Qatar said in a statement that it received approval from Lebanese authorities to operate a daily flight from Doha to Beirut starting Monday. "This development comes after a series of discussions the company had with Lebanese authorities to alleviate the suffering of travelers to and from Lebanon," the airline said. The statement did not address Israel's blockade or whether the airline had sought Israeli clearance. Calls to the airline's press office went unanswered. Israel has refused to lift its air and sea blockade of Lebanon, contending it needs to prevent Hizbullah from rearming after the clashes. Israel said it did not know of any official request from Qatar Airways, but the airline would be welcome to resume flights into Beirut as long as this was done in coordination with Israeli authorities. Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, denied that Israel was enforcing a "blockade" of Lebanon, noting that airplanes and ships were entering and leaving Lebanon daily with Israeli permission. Regev said the blockade would be removed as soon as the Lebanese army and UN peacekeeping forces were in full control of the country's borders. "In the current situation, all traffic into and out of Lebanon must be coordinated," Regev said. "When people approach us, we almost automatically say yes." The official said he was "hopeful" that Lebanese and international forces would be deployed soon and that all restrictions on traffic would be lifted. The 34-day war between Hizbullah and Israel destroyed large sections of Lebanon's infrastructure, but runways at Beirut's international airport have been repaired. Since the end of the war on August 14 only two airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines and Middle East Airlines, a Lebanese carrier, have been allowed by Israel to operate limited international flights to and from Beirut through Amman, the Jordanian capital. Jordan Airlines is currently operating three flights a day to Beirut, whereas MEA is operating 80 flights a week, down from 130 flights before the war, all which carry out stopovers in Amman