Airlines: Out of the Wastelands And Around the World

Winter-grown green peppers, grapes and watermelons from Lebanon now reach dinner tables in London almost as rapidly as in Beirut. They get to Covent Garden, where the melons fetch 50¢, v. 8¢ in a Lebanese bazaar, by means of cargo planes and because of the sagacity of a 40-year-old Lebanese with some slick trading talents.

Fourteen years ago, Munir Abu-Haidar founded Trans-Mediterranean Airways as a creaky charter service linking Beirut with neighboring wastelands where oil was being scouted. Today the line flies not only to England and the European Continent, but also to Bombay, Karachi, Tokyo and Taipei. Last year...