Hariri Meets Officials after Airport Baggage System Fails Causing Chaos

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Friday summoned the caretaker ministers of public works, interior and finance as well as security and administrative officials to discuss the latest episode of chaos at Beirut's airport that followed an outage of the luggage and registration processing system.

Hariri's move came after the head of the Central Inspection Bureau, Judge George Atiyeh, summoned to his office Fadi al-Hassan, the chief of the Rafik Hariri International Airport, and Civil Aviation Director General Mohammed Shehabeddine to question them over “the circumstances of the congestion that occurred overnight and at dawn at the airport,” the National News Agency said.

Atiyeh acted on instructions from caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati, NNA added.

The agency had reported that the malfunction had been repaired at 4:30 am, noting that it affected a baggage drop and passengers system operated by SITA, a multinational company providing IT and telecommunication services to the global air transport industry.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had issued a statement saying the system failure had occurred Thursday at 11:30 pm, resulting in a “total suspension of the registration process and congestion in the departure sections.”

In another statement, the Directorate clarified that SITA is the operator of more than 70% of the luggage registration systems around the world, including at Beirut's airport, adding that “the full responsibility for the malfunction falls on the company” and vowing to take “the necessary legal measures” against SITA.

The chaos prompted Lebanon's Middle East Airlines to delay all its flights for Friday.

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