Airline: Iraq stops landing over official's son



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BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon's national airline says Iraqi authorities denied permission for its plane to land in Baghdad after a son of an Iraqi minister missed the flight.

Middle East Airlines said in a statement the 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.

It identified the missing passenger as a son of Iraq's Transport Minister Mahdi 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.

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