Following Intra Bank's collapse in 1966, Douglas cancelled MEA's order for DC-8 jets, expressing fears that the airline might not honour its financial obligations. After the situation settled MEA chose the Boeing 707-320C for the renewal of its jet fleet, and an order was placed for 4 of these aircraft in August 1968. In the meantime, MEA leased 2 Vickers VC-10s (from Ghana Airways and Laker) and 3 Boeing 720s (from Ethiopian Airlines). MEA took delivery of its first Boeing 707-320C on November 18th 1968, and no-one would have predicted at the time, neither the dramatic fate of that aircraft, nor that MEA would still be operating Boeing 707s more than 25 years later.

          During the night of the 28th to the 29th of December 1968, Israeli commandos attacked by surprise Beirut's International Airport, destroying 14 civilian aircraft, in order to revenge the attack perpetrated in Athens on an El-Al plane by Palestinian activists, in which an Israeli passenger was killed. MEA lost its newly acquired Boeing 707-320C, 3 Sud Aviation Caravelles, 3 de Havilland Comets, a leased Vickers VC-10 (owned by Ghana Airways) and a Vickers Viscount. LIA lost its 2 Convair CV-990A jets and a Douglas DC-7. TMA lost a Douglas DC-6, and a Douglas DC-4. The miltary operation drew unanimous international condemnation.

          The UN security council condemned Israel for its attack on Lebanese civilian installations, and airlines worldwide offered their help. MEA, who had lost two thirds of its fleet, resumed operations with the remaining aircraft (a Boeing 707, a Comet4C, a Sud Aviation Caravelle, and a Viscount) less than 11 hours after the raid, combining destinations and optimizing schedules. MEA's staff worked overtime, in an unpreceded effort to save the airline.

          The destroyed fleet was quickly replaced with leased aircraft. MEA quickly endorsed the insurance compensation, and took advantage of the situation in order to increase its capital and homogenize its fleet by ordering exclusively Boeing 707s and 720s.

This move greatly cut operating costs. An exception to this rule was that MEA operated 6 Convairs CV-990A on lease from American Airlines between June 1969 and March 1972.

By the end of 1969 MEA had replaced its destroyed fleet with modern B707 "Cedarjets" and made substantial profits a year later. LIA was less fortunate, as it was declared bankrupt shortly after the Israeli raid, and MEA took-over its traffic rights and some of its staff. In exchange, the Lebanese government gave MEA the exclusive rights for passenger air transport until 1989 (consequently renewed until 2012).

TMA quickly recovered and continued its conquest of the world's air cargo markets.


9G-ABP the VC10 leased from Ghana Airways seen in BEY before it was destroyed by the Israeli army in 1968. Photo: MEA

This photo of Dad (1965) and his Bond Equipe is the same Vickers VC10 aircraft, as shown on left with MEA livery, that the Israeli's blew up at Beirut International airport on 28th December 1968.

Fleet Capt. G.W.Daggett DFC taking delivery of a new VC10 on behalf of Ghana airways.

Dad last piloted this aircraft ( shown above), on 24th October 1968 (as per his flying log-book) before the Israeli's blew it up on 28th December 1968, at Beirut's International Airport.

Israeli’s destroy Ghana Airways VC 10

  Israeli commandos attacked by surprise Beirut's International Airport in   order to revenge the attack perpetrated in Athens on an El-Al plane by   Palestinian activists, in which an Israeli passenger was killed.

Image Description

This VC-10 was leased from Ghana Airways but was destroyed at Beirut during an Israeli raid in December 1968

Home INDEX Contents Forward Volume 1 Volume 2 Tree chart Miscellaneous RAF Archive Pics