By Asharaf Abdul-Wahab and Aimen Eljali
Tripoli, 3 September 2013:
Qaddafi’s luxurious private jet has been given a multimillion-dollar makeover by Airbus in . . .[restrict]France ahead of it being handed back to Libya for use the government.
The Airbus 340, which the dictator bought for $120 million from Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed in 2003, was captured at Tripoli International Airport by revolutionaries in August 2011, at the time of the city’s liberation. Pretending to be part of the Afriqiyah Airways fleet, with the airlines’ distinctive 9999 logo (9 September 1999, the date of the creation of the African Union), the aircraft had been fitted out with a number of non-standard facilities, such as a jacuzzi.
The plane, registration number 5A-ONE, was damaged during the revolution and sent back to Airbus at Toulouse for repairs, an overhaul and a refit. While the refurbishment was done by Airbus, the internal and external branding of the airplane was done by Shout Communications, a local Libyan agency .
The 340 will now be operated by EACS a company owned by the Ministry of Defence and as the official state aircraft, it should mean that Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways planes ready for particular flights are no longer suddenly commandeered by the government and Congress for official journeys, leaving passengers at Tripoli or Benghazi airports stranded and furious.
The plane’s reappearance coincides with the outcome of a court case in London relating to its 2003 sale by Prince Alwaleed to Qaddafi. At the end of July, a judge ruled against the prince saying that he had to pay Jordanian businesswoman Daad Sharab a $10-million commission on the sale. [/restrict]