Doha based Qatar Airways has issued a travel waiver for passengers who are stuck in Beirut due to the on-going street demonstrations. The full-service Gulf carrier has been advised that passengers booked to fly out of the Lebanese capital are unable to reach Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) because of protests.
Despite thousands of people on the streets trying to erect barricades and interrupt traffic as we have seen in the tactics used by protesters in Hong Kong, Beirut airport remains open for now.
In its travel advisory, Qatar Airways states that it realizes some passengers may now want to alter their travel plans due to the current crisis in Lebanon. Realizing that passengers are unable to get to the airport from Beirut, Qatar Airways is allowing passengers to rebook flights free of charge or receive a complete refund for tickets.
Refunds are being issued for flights booked before 18th October and traveling up until 31st October 2019. Passengers affected by the protests can either call their travel agent or Qatar Airways directly on +974 4023 0000.
The statement goes on to say:,
“We apologize for the inconvenience caused by matters outside of our control.”
Other airlines operating out of Beirut, Including Lebanese flag carrier Middle East Airlines, are also offering travel waivers with MEA posting this announcement on Facebook:
“Dear passengers flying with Middle East Airlines – Air Liban, due to road blockades which prevent passengers from arriving at Rafic Hariri International Airport-Beirut, kindly note that all bookings and cancellations will be without any penalty until things ease up.”
What is the cause of the protests?
In a country that suffered more than 15 years of Civil War and sectarian divide, the people have come together to demand an overhaul of the political elitist system.
Comprised mostly of young men and women born after the 1975-1990 Civil War, the protesters are demanding the removal of the country’s ruling class which has held onto power for the past 30 years.
Many of the political leaders were warlords in their geographical and sectarian communities and are seen as being incompetent and corrupt by the people taking to the streets.
The country could be on the brink of collapse
With banks and schools closed now for more than a week, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced a package of reforms aimed at reviving an economy that has been on life support for months.
Now, despite Hariri’s coalition partners in the government supporting the move, protesters see it as a last-ditch attempt for the politicians to hold onto their jobs.
So far the protests have remained mostly violent free except in a few instances where security forces fired into the air to disperse crowds and physically removed people that were deliberately blocking the road.
Could Beirut airport be shut down?
People traveling to Beirut need to follow developments closely and call their airline before heading off to the airport. Lebanon is a very complicated country where anything can happen at any time.
The British Government has issued a travel advisory for Lebanon of which a part reads:
All major roads in and out of Beirut are blocked. New roadblocks may appear at short notice. Where possible, road travel to and from Beirut should be avoided.
The roads to and from Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport were blocked by protestors and could become blocked again without notice. This could lead to you being unable to leave the airport if arriving, and unable to access the airport if departing. If traveling to or from Beirut you should contact your airline before departure as some flights have been canceled.