Lebanon is within the midst of one of many deepest depressions in fashionable historical past in keeping with the World Financial institution. Hyperinflation has seen the Lebanese pound lose greater than 90 p.c of its worth in lower than two years and greater than half of the inhabitants has sunk into poverty.
The capital Beirut is now the third-most costly metropolis on this planet, in keeping with the 2021 Mercer Value of Dwelling Survey.
Amid this financial meltdown, the nation’s individuals and establishments have been compelled to improvise new and unconventional methods of producing additional revenue. The struggling military has began providing helicopter excursions to vacationers in a bid to spice up morale and lift must-needed money for upkeep.
Each vacationers and Lebanese residents can join 15-minute rides on the navy’s web site, billed as a approach to see “Lebanon … from above”. Excursions on the R44 Robinson “Raven” helicopters – normally reserved for scholar pilots of their first yr of coaching – depart from each Rayak and Amchit airbases, and supply scenic views.
It’s notably telling that the military has resorted to moonlighting as tour guides, provided that the navy has underpinned Lebanon’s stability because the finish of the civil conflict in 1990. Regardless of vital US navy help, the financial disaster has made it exhausting for the military to take care of its funds for tools, upkeep and provides.
Final month, Military Commander Normal Joseph Aoun warned that the financial disaster – partly attributable to a long time of presidency corruption and profligacy – would quickly result in the breakdown of all state establishments, together with the military.
Lebanon was and not using a functioning authorities for 13 months following the large explosion at Beirut’s port in August 2020 – which killed greater than 200 individuals and destroyed massive swathes of the town – till a brand new cupboard was lastly fashioned final week.
Overseas forex money reserves have plummeted, inflicting gasoline, electrical energy and medication shortages.
Within the meantime, the Lebanese navy is aiming for about 1,000 hours of leisure flights this yr. Every trip will price $150, which means the programme might internet the navy $300,000 by the top of the yr.
A Lebanese soldier now earns simply $90 a month – down from nearly $850 earlier than the disaster.