BEIRUT: A land deal is underway to expand Rafik Hariri International Airport, and will soon see enhanced security measures to handle the increase in the number of travelers, the public works and transportation minister revealed Monday.
Speaking after a meeting to discuss strategies to improve Lebanon’s only international commercial airport, Ghazi Zeaiter said: “The meeting was fruitful, especially given that some matters will be approved within the coming two days.”
The minister revealed that a plan was underway to boost the airport’s capacity from about 6 million travelers last year to 12 million over the next few years, and that an exchange of lands with the Defense Ministry was already in the pipeline.
Also topping the agenda of the meeting was a plan to enhance security measures in light of the increase in the number of travelers coming through Lebanon’s only international airport.
“There are occasions and seasons in which the numbers of travelers increase, which results in the need to increase security existence inside the airport,” Zeaiter said. Enhancing security arrangements, he added, would protect both travelers and the airport’s facilities.
The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, the airport’s head Mohammad Shehabeddine, the head of the Civil Aviation Administration Daniel al-Haibi, and the head of the airport’s security Brig. Jean Talouzian. Zeaiter said the presence of the interior minister provided “added value” given that the security agency of the airport was affiliated with the Interior Ministry.
Machnouk has agreed to increase the number of security personnel present. “Yes, we have discussed this issue, and he expressed readiness to cooperate on this level,” Zeaiter said.
Zeaiter denied that the meeting indicated a heightened threat level, saying, “This is a monthly, regular meeting and there was nothing exceptional about it.”