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In the decade following Lebanon's civil war, flag-carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) failed to post one single annual profit.
When net losses peaked at $87 million in 1997, the country's exasperated Central Bank gave Mohamad El-Hout, its chief of financial asset development, the unenviable task of finding a manager to rehabilitate the airline.
Apparently unimpressed with the candidates he proposed, it then handed El-Hout the still-less enviable task of fixing MEA himself.
By anyone's standards, the unwitting chairman has performed phenomenally well. MEA has been profitable in each of the 13 years following his 2001 restructuring programme – a slash-and-burn overhaul that grounded lossmaking routes and shrunk the workforce by about 40% despite strong union opposition...