Ryanair Expands To The Middle East

Low-cost airline Ryanair is expanding to the Middle East with flights from Paphos International Airport in Cyprus to Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) in Lebanon.

Ryanair to fly from Paphos to Beirut
Ryanair to start flying to Beirut from Paphos in October. Photo:Ryanair

Ever since the Lebanese Civil War 1975-1990 and the current unrest in Syria, getting to and from Lebanon was a costly business that usually involved flying on Middle East Airlines (MEA).

That’s all about to change now that Ryanair is preparing to enter the market place with their exceptionally cheap fares.

Ryanair to fly to Beirut starting in October

Starting October 30th, Ryanair will operate three flights a week between the Lebanese capital and the Cypriot resort. They’ll launch the route with an initial one-way fare of 15€ ($16.86) according to The Independent.

Ryanair to compete with MEA
Ryanair to compete with MEA and BA in Europe. Photo: MEA

The London based newspaper also claims that you will be able to fly round trip from Stansted to Beirut with a stopover in Paphos for £115 ($143). That’s a bargain when compared to the fare levels at British Airways and Middle East Airlines, which are often well over £300 ($374).

The same trip can also be made on Ryanair from Bournemouth and Liverpool to Beirut via Paphos. Lebanon will now be the 38th country that the Irish budget airline flies to, with its base in Paphos also serving Tel Aviv, Israel and Amman, Jordan. In a statement released today, Ryanair’s Chiara Ravara said,

“We’re pleased to announce Ryanair’s low fares have arrived at Beirut, our newest airport and 1st in Lebanon. Our new route to Paphos, Cyprus commences on October 2019 and will operate three times weekly for Winter 2019, ensuring customers in Lebanon can book low fare flights to Paphos as far out as March 2020.

“To celebrate, we are releasing seats for sale on our network from just €17.99 for travel in August which are available for booking until midnight Friday (12 Jul). Since these amazing low fares will be snapped up quickly, customers should log onto ryanair.com and avoid missing out.”

This move into the Lebanese market comes nine years after the countries then tourism minister, Fadi Abboud, told The Independent: “We need cheaper flights. I really want Ryanair and easyJet to consider Lebanon.”

The Lebanese are not the only people who will be happy about the new inexpensive flights to Cyprus. The Paphos Regional Board of Tourism welcomed the announcement, with Board director Nasos Hadjigeorgiou telling the website In Cyprus,

Video of the day:

“Paphos is closer to its target to once again be an all-year tourist destination. We would like to thank Ryanair for their trust in the destination as well as Hermes airports and the ministries for their efforts to promote the island’s connectivity.”

As well as the Bournemouth, and Liverpool flights to Paphos, Ryanair also announced on June 26th that they would be operating flights from Paphos to Berlin Tegel, Kyiv, Mykonos, Katowice and Malta.

How far is Paphos to Beirut?

Cyprus is located just 264 km (164 m) off the Lebanese coast, and can be reached in just over half an hour flying time by plane.

It takes just over 30 minutes to fly from Beirut to Paphos. Photo Wikipedia

Considered as being a tourist destination for northern Europeans before airlines like Ryanair arrived, Paphos is slowly catching up with Cyprus’s main airport in Larnaca.

Conclusion

The entire western Middle East has been a region plagued by conflicts, wars and terrorism. This has put many airlines off from wanting to fly in and out of Beirut.

Ryanair to fly from Cyprus to Lebanon
Ryanair flying to Beirut may get other low-cost carriers interested in new routesPhoto: Jan Claus via Pixabay

Despite its proximity to Syria and Lebanon, Cyprus has, for the last 44 years, been a place where the Lebanese could go to escape the problems in their own country. With these new flights, it opens the door for people who would like to relax and holiday in a safe environment, while for others it gives them the chance to use Cyprus as an affordable stepping stone to the rest of Europe.

Ryanair’s decision to fly to the Lebanese capital is a milestone which should pay off as they are seriously undercutting the current Beirut airfares and may light the blue touch paper of other low-cost airlines looking to expand their routes.

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Nigel

Well, well…who’d have expected that?
I suppose cities like Cairo and Amman will be next…maybe Israeli destinations also.
If Ryanair can efficiently get tourists into Cairo, Hurghada and Luxor, It’s likely that the Egyptians will welcome them with open arms.

Adam Simmons

Cairo is protected from low cost carriers, presumably to help out Egyptair.

Nigel

The Egyptians are desperate to revive their tourism industry. Egyptair has never been a competent or reliable airline. Things may therefore soon be changing 😏 And even if Cairo is off limits, there are still other destinations in the country.