BEIRUT (AP) — Iraqi authorities on Thursday denied permission to a plane belonging to Lebanon’s national carrier to land in Baghdad after a son of an Iraqi minister missed the flight, Middle East Airline said in a statement.
In Baghdad, Ali Musawi, the adviser to Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said the premier ordered those behind the decision to force the MEA plane to turn back to Beirut fired. He also formed a committee to investigate and ordered the passengers involved to be flown to Iraq aboard an Iraqi Airways flight for free.
An MEA plane scheduled to leave Beirut on Thursday at 12:46 p.m. (1046 GMT, 5:46 a.m. EST) was delayed for six minutes because of a missing passenger. The Beirut-based airline identified the missing passenger as a son of Iraq’s Transport Minister Hadi Ameri.
Twenty minutes after the plane’s departure, the head of MEA in Baghdad contacted the pilot, saying that Iraqi authorities would not allow the plane to land at Baghdad International Airport without Ameri’s son on board. The plane, carrying 71 passengers, returned to Beirut.
Ameri’s adviser said the MEA plane turned back because of maintenance work on the runway.