MEA and Airfrance airplanes taxi on the tarmac of Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Friday, March 28, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Four "major" incidents have taken place at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport since the beginning of the year, including two that have not previously been reported, an air traffic controller told The Daily Star Thursday.A decree to hire 110 new employees, including 25 air traffic controllers, aims to help resolve understaffing, but it has been held up because only around eight of the 110 are Christian, according to multiple sources.The airport has 19 certified air traffic controllers working with 19 uncertified assistants and a handful of retirees.According to one recruit, of the 285 people who took the exam, 260 were Muslim – a common problem for state institutions trying to fill posts while simultaneously keeping a sectarian balance.A senior official at the airport endorsed the decree to hire the recruits.Nevertheless, the official insisted the airport was safe. The air traffic controller who also spoke on condition of anonymity was less optimistic.The controller said there have been two other, previously unreported, major incidents this year, but did not give details.Another source close to airport staff confirmed that there had been four major incidents so far this year.
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