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The Lebanese Director General of Civil Aviation confirms the commitment of Lebanon to the International Standards of the Aviation Safety.


Mr. Daniel El Haiby to our Website:  Airport Traffic is active and it was not affected by the security conditions in the region.

Before few hours of his travelling to Canada to attend the celebrations of Seventy Years After Signing The Chicago Convention occasion, which was established for the development of the civil aviation sector in the world, the Director General of Civil Aviation, Mr. Daniel El Haiby, was interviewed about the situation of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in Lebanon, and the activist traffic of Rafik Hariri International Airport - Beirut, which overcame all the security conditions that devastated the region; and he stressed that Lebanon will remain an active country in the field of safety, security, and the development of the aviation sector in the world. Here below are the details of the interview:


Being the Director General of Civil Aviation, how do you assess the situation in the Lebanese Civil Aviation with all the aviation accidents witnessed all over the world?

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in Lebanon applies all the international laws, and abides by all the assets, criteria and the standards that ensure and provide the aviation safety for arriving and departing flights through the efficient work of the technical departments it has, which carry out their responsibilities and required duties to the fullest. As well as, through the Airport Security that works very hard to apply the international law and standards to maintain the security of the Lebanese Airport  and the General Aviation.

Despite some findings that has been cited by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Audit Team, Lebanon considered one of the countries that recorded the lowest percentage in the aviation accidents among the world; and this indicates the versatility of the personnel in the Lebanese Civil Aviation on one hand, and the extent of our commitment to the international aviation standards relating to the safety and security on the other hand.


How would you describe the airport traffic in Lebanon in terms of the number of arrivals especially we are on the threshold of Christmas and New Year's Eve? 

The airport traffic in Lebanon is very active, and we witness this activity in summer, holiday seasons and Hajj seasons, where the airport becomes gridlocked with passengers mainly those arriving, and sometimes the airport traffic is greater than its capacity. For example, last year, the airport received about six million two hundred thousand passengers whereas the airport absorption capacity is only six million passengers a year, knowing that the last year was one of the years in which the influx of Arab vacationers decreased due to the difficult security conditions experienced by the Arab region in general, and affected Lebanon. Perhaps this activist traffic urges us to start studying the expansion of Rafik Hariri International Airport to be ready to accommodate 12 million passengers a year.


The plan to expand the Rafik Hariri International Airport is an old subject, but we have not seen the actual performance on it, so what hinders the implementation process?

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport realized, after many years, that the airport activity had grown beyond the maximum of its capacity, and the number of passengers exceeded six million passengers a year, therefore it began demanding the Lebanese Government to assign bodies needed to study the expansion project of the Airport to double its capacity to 12 million passengers a year. And indeed, the Council of Ministers adopted Resolution No. 23 dated 29/05/2012 which confirmed the formation of a Ministerial Committee headed by the Prime Minister and the membership of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Ministers of Public Works And Transport, Interior, National Defense, Finance, Public Health, Agriculture, and Tourism to prepare the Action Plan for the Air Transport, and this committee is responsible to take the decisions concerning the expansion of the airport. Thus, the implementation of this plan is subject to the action of this committee.


What about the human resources assigned to conduct the work at the airport, how can you fill the shortage of the manpower in light of stopping the recruitment process awaiting the establishment of the Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority?

The truth is that we, in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, suffer from a severe shortage of manpower and this is due to the unemployment decision taken in anticipation of the assignment of the Board of Directors for the Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority. Actually, only 30% of the required number of employees is working.  As for how to redress this shortage, the DGCA sections with the high skills of our professional employees cooperate to perform further missions in addition to their basic tasks. From our side, as an administration, we are eager to qualify the DGCA personnel through attending training courses abroad or inside the country, so that we can benefit from their experience to redress the shortage. In the end, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is proceeding as required and without any mention shortening.


There are two events that disturbed most of the Lebanese people, one of them is related to the spread of a global epidemic Ebola and the second one is internal and related to the food safety. Regarding the Ebola epidemic, what are the new procedures taken in Rafik Hariri International Airport to prevent transmission of this disease to Lebanon? Did we record any case in Lebanon? 

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation is working in coordination with the Ministry of Health, through the health clinic and the quarantine exited at the airport, to check and monitor all the passengers coming from affected countries. We have equipped the airport with special cameras to scan passengers heat and detect suspected cases of Ebola; a decision was made to stop opening the VIP area for those coming from suspected countries, we have also issued a circular to all airlines to inform us about any suspected cases among their passengers before arriving to Beirut airport, and we made a decision to allocate one runway at the airport to receive the passengers coming from affected countries which is the western runway. I can say that until today, we have not spotted any infected passenger in RHIA-B.


Regarding the food safety issues, what are the procedures taken to ensure the food safety in all restaurants and food companies accredited by the airport?

It is very well known that there are many restaurants in the airport, in addition to many certified companies that provide them with the needed supplies. The restaurants at the airport are subject to the international standards relating to the food safety, and there are periodic and ongoing audits on the food products provided. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation always gives instructions for both restaurants and the food companies that deal with the airlines to abide by the health and hygiene standards.


Lebanon is a member in the International Civil Aviation Organization, and you participate in ICAO meetings, how can Lebanon, through its membership, contributes in reflecting the positive image of the Lebanese Civil Aviation? 

Lebanon is one of the founder members of the International Civil Aviation Organization; he was one of 52 countries that have signed the Chicago Convention in 1944.  Since that time until today, Lebanon was eager to participate and work actively in this international organization. We have had the privilege to preside the Council of the International Organization by Dr. Assad Kotaite, for 30 years from 1976 until 2006, where he was elected for this position for eleven consecutive years. He also had occupied the position of Secretary General of the Organization for six years from 1970 until 1976. Lebanon, and until 2009, was a member of the FAO Council, which includes 36 seats alternated by the Member States.

In addition to all the above and based on the Council of Ministers' decision, Lebanon still to this day has an office in the ICAO building in order to represent Lebanon positively. The presence of Lebanon in the annual meetings of the ICAO Council considered mandatory, similarly to the participation in the meetings of the General Assembly which convenes once every three years for elections of the organization and its board.

Based on all of the above, I can confirm that the organization and the states’ representatives respect Lebanon and appreciate the enormous efforts and the contribution that Lebanon submitted for the Civil Aviation in order to develop this sector, and all of them are eager to maintain a strong relationship between Lebanon and the organization. On the other hand, we are committed to be present in all the vital events conducted by the organization. Today, we will attend the celebrations of Seventy Years After Signing The Chicago Convention occasion, which will take place in the fifth and sixth of December 2014 in Montreal, and in the seventh and eighth of the same month in Chicago, in the same conference room where they signed the Chicago Convention in 1944.  Our presence and participation are essential to prove to the whole world that Lebanon was and still an active country in the field of safety, security and development of the Civil Aviation in the world.