Flight ban for the Cypriot TUS Airways to Lebanon - What is the reason?
Lebanon has banned the Cypriot company Tus Air from using Beirut International Airport
Lebanon has decided to ban flights by TUS Airways from its airspace. According to a related report, Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Lebanon, Fadi al-Hassan, announced that TUS Airways has been banned by Lebanon, which means that the airline cannot land at Lebanese airports and cannot use the airspace of Lebanon. The reason for the ban? The Israeli company Knafaim Holdings Ltd. owns 49,9% of the airline's shares.
TUS Airways is the largest airline in Cyprus. The Larnaca-based airline began operations in 2016 and has a fleet of five Airbus A320s.
The airline flies mainly to Europe (including Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Slovakia) and also flies to Israel. Therefore, the consequences of this ban are quite limited in practice, as Lebanese airspace will not even be used for most TUS Airways routes.
Interestingly, during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, TUS Airways operated a number of charter flights between Israel and Doha — seeing direct flights between the two countries was a historic development.
That TUS Airways is almost half owned by an Israeli company is nothing new, so why has this suddenly become an issue? Well, under a bilateral air services agreement, TUS Airways was granted the right to operate regularly scheduled flights between Cyprus and Lebanon.
This caused the Lebanese authorities to do some research on the airline, leading to the discovery that TUS Airways is partially owned by an Israeli company.
The conflict between Lebanon and Israel
The decision to ban TUS Airways from Lebanon was made under the Lebanon Israel Boycott Act. The conflict dates back to 1951, when the Arab League called on member states to ban political, economic, trade and cultural relations with Israel.
Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, during the Lebanese Civil War, and occupied Lebanese territory until 2000. Israel and Lebanon have technically been at war for decades, although the last major conflict was in 2006.
Although Cyprus and Lebanon do not have a standoff, the fact that TUS Airways is minority owned by an Israeli company is enough to cause Lebanon to ban the airline.