Mohammed el-Hout, chairman of the Lebanese carrier, put forward the idea at a meeting with Public Works and Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi, and says the government is receptive to the proposal.

The MEA board has endorsed the project and put forward $30m to build the centre, which it hopes will cut costs and attract trainees from across the Middle East.

The expansion of airline fleets in the Middle East is putting ever-greater pressure on the availability of qualified pilots. As a result, many carriers are increasingly turning to in-house training to cut costs, rather than pay the huge wages demanded by experienced pilots.