Despite persistent growth in the total number of air passengers, transit activity at the Beirut airport has seen a significant decline, statistics released Friday by Rafik Hariri International showed.
In January, the decline in transit passengers stood at 78 percent compared to the same month a year earlier. The number of inbound and outbound passengers grew by 10 and 8 percent, respectively.
The number of inbound and outbound flights both decreased by around 3 percent in the same month, while transit flights plummeted 63.5 percent.
A source at the airport told The Daily Star that several flights which drew the biggest percentage of transit travelers were canceled over the past year for commercial reasons.
This, however, had limited impact on airport revenues, the source said.
“The impact on the airport revenues is not significant as transit passengers pay minimal taxes,” the source said.
Economy class passengers pay LL50,000 in airport taxes. First class travelers pay LL100,000, while business class passengers pay LL75,000.
Transit passengers, defined as those who stay less than 24 hours, are exempted from Lebanese airport taxes.
The source explained that Yemenia Airlines and British Airways have reduced the number of flights on several lines popular with Arab and Asian transit passengers. MEA, Lebanon’s flag carrier, does not carry a significant number of transit passengers.
MEA was not available for comment Friday.
The source added that the escalation of the violence in Syria had prompted airlines to stop flying to both countries. The source explained that in the past, some airlines would continue to Aleppo or Damascus after stopping in Beirut with transit passengers on board.
The airport has seen 5.5 percent y-o-y growth in the total number of passengers in 2012, reaching 5.96 million.
Total arrivals increased 2.83 percent in 2012 compared to 2011 to reach 2.89 million, while total departures increased 8.53 percent y-o-y to 3.02 million.
The number of transit passengers had fallen 18.74 percent by the end of 2012.