Tripoli_After more than eight years the Presidential Plane, once used by Muammar Qaddafi in his official visits, is back to Libya but not before the government had paid premiums required for its maintenance and barking to both France and Turkey.
The government did not say just how much the premiums were and whether it was worth it to pay that amount of money for an old plane that may not be used at all.
Flying from Turkey where the plane flew to it from Perpignan–Rivesaltes Airport in France early this year, the Airbus A340-213 landed in Maitiqa International Airport in Tripoli in a hot summer’s evening on Sunday 20 June 2021.
Craving for a photo op whenever it’s available, Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba of the Government of National Unity was at the airport to receive the plane along with a number of like-minded ministers and officials.
In front of journalists, Dabaiba said that the plane belongs to Libyans and returns to the country after an absence of eight years, in France from 2012, considering that its return is “very important for Libyan sovereignty” as it was detained in Paris “due to financial and administrative procedures”.
Critiques think the airplane could have been sold and the money used to fix other planes that are still need to be taken care of since the burning of Tripoli International Airport by fighting militias in 2014.
Pilot Ahmed Banca from Fly Cyrenaica tweeted “personally, I wish it was sold and the cost of its maintenance could have been spent on other planes which are still now outside for years in Tunisia, Bulgaria, Germany, Egypt and Slovenia”. He added that regular maintenance will even cost more.
But the Prime Minister insisted the plane’s return is “an important positive step for Libya, its security and the return of its wealth,” pointing out that there are 15 Libyan planes still outside the country, including those seized due to financial problems.
He suggested that there is still no clear plan for what the government will do with this plane. “The returning plane is equipped for the presidency and the Libyan people are the ones who decide its fate, either it remains dedicated to the next president or used by the government or it is modified for normal use. Or sell it and use its proceeds to serve the Libyan people” PM explained.