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Middle East Airlines was founded on May 31, 1945 by Saeb Salam, with operational and technical support from BOAC, with three de Havilland DH.89A Rapides. Operations started on January 1, 1946 with a service between Beirut and Nicosia, followed by flights to Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Cyprus. Two Douglas DC-3s were acquired in mid-1946. Pan Am acquired a stake and management contract in September 1949. Pan Am was replaced when BOAC acquired 49% of MEA's shares in 1955. A Vickers Viscount was introduced in October 1955 while an Avro York cargo aircraft was leased in June 1957. On December 15, 1960, the first of four de Havilland Comet 4Cs arrived. After the association with BOAC ended on August 16, 1961, MEA was merged with Air Liban on June 7, 1963 which gave Air France a 30% holding, since relinquished. The full title was then Middle East Airlines Air Liban. In 1963 MEA also took over Lebanese International Airways. The fleet was modernised with the addition of three Sud Aviation Caravelles, in April 1963; three Boeing 720Bs, in January 1966; one leased Vickers VC10, in March 1967; and a number of Boeing 707-320Cs, from November 1967. The current name was adopted in November 1965 when the airline was completely merged with Air Liban. Although operations were interrupted by the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, MEA restarted by acquiring a Convair CV-990A from American Airlines, which entered service on June 24, 1969. A Boeing 747-200B entered service in June 1975 on the Beirut - London route. Operations were interrupted again until 1990, until the political situation stabilised. Airbus A310-300s were acquired in 1993 and 1994, followed by an A321-200 and an A330-200, (which replaced the A310s). The airline was restructured in 2001. On September 7, 2006, Israel ended its 8-week long air blockade on Lebanon. A Middle East Airlines flight from Paris landed at Beirut International Airport at 6:06 p.m. local time. MEA resumed regularly scheduled flights on September 11, 2006.
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