Posted by Mark
I’m currently at the Beirut Airport and my flight is being delayed because of the pilot strike Najib posted about below.
Until a few moments ago no flight was showing as delayed. If you had called the airport before arriving to check on your flight they would have told you it was leaving on time. If you asked the employee at check in if your flight was delayed they would have told you no. If you entered Duty Free past the immigration desks and checked the screens your flight would have also shown to be on time. I only realized my flight might be delayed because of the Naharnet article Najib linked to. Even then I checked the Beirut Airport website and the departure screen in the lounge and it still showed I was leaving on time so I figured my flight was affected. Only when it was nearly boarding time and I was about to leave lounge did I find out my flight was delayed. On my way out of the lounge I asked an employee if my flight was taking off on time and she told me no it was delayed by 2 hours.
Even though my flight is delayed and I have to sit and kill time in our boring airport, I do understand why the pilots are on strike and I stand by them. You don’t dump an employee who has been serving you for over 30 years because he ended up getting cancer. I’m not saying the pilot should continue flying (depending on his condition he probably can’t). What I’m saying is that the pilot should continue to undergo treatment on his MEA insurance and once the treatment is complete if the pilot can continue to fly then he should. In the meantime while being treated they could assign him a desk job or accommodate him some other way. Keep in mind this isn’t a new employee or one just has been with them for a short period of time, we’re talking 30+ years here.
Update: Here is a response from a MEA pilot
First of all i offer our apologies for this delay, and thank you for your support. Believe me when i say it was the only way to get our management to listen. The Lebanese pilots association is not demanding that the captain returns to fly, but they are only asking that this captain get his rights as described by the Lebanese law; receive 2 months full salary and 2 months half salary on sick leave where after that the Lebanese DCA shall decide if he is fit to fly and fully recovered or not. MEA gave him half of what the law says and fired him after 38 years of work during his sick leave in the middle of his treatment (against the Lebanese labor law). Again my sincere apologies and thank you for this support.