By Sami Zaptia.
London, 21 June 2021:
The former Presidential Airbus A340 plane that had been stranded in France since 2014 has finally arrived in Libya from Istanbul yesterday.
It arrived at Mitiga where it was welcomed by Libyan Prime Minister Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba.
The Airbus arrived after completing its maintenance and after Libya paid off all outstanding dues. It was costing the Libyan government 1,200 Euros per day in France.
Aldabaiba, who has taken credit for its return, revealed that all 12 Libyan planes seized abroad will return to Libya, pointing out that there are two military planes outside Libya that the government will also work to retrieve.
It will be recalled that the Airbus had left France on 7 June for final finishing in Istanbul.
The saga of Qaddafi’s former plane
It will be borne in mind that the plane had been caught up in a legal tug-of-war between the Kuwaiti Al-Kharafi Construction Group and the Libyan state.
The Kharafi group had been attempting to take ownership of the luxurious plane whilst it was in France for payment of a settlement ordered by a court for the Libyan cancellation of a tourism contract in 2010. The plane had been flown by Libya to the French city of Perpignan for maintenance in 2012.
An arbitration panel in Cairo had ordered Libya in March 2013 to pay nearly a billion dollars to the Kuwaiti company for the loss of 90 years’ potential income from a cancelled Tripoli tourism project.
But French lawyers acting for Libya claimed the aircraft enjoyed sovereign immunity.
After a French court had ruled on 25 August 2016 that the Kharafi Group could not use the aircraft for settlement of a court decision, they decided to abandon the case.
The A340 Airbus had been bought from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for €120 million in 2003. It was damaged during the revolution and was sent to France for repairs and had been there ever since.