Turkish airlines have paid over $70 million for the personal aircraft of former Tunisian autocrat , Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisair have said.
According to a spokesperson for the national carrier, the Turkish firm bought the Airbus A340 for 181 million dinars ($78 million), though no date was provided for the sale.
The Airbus A340 sold to Turkish Airlines had been parked in the French city of Bordeaux for more than five years, Tunisair spokeswoman. However, Tunisair said they felt they had reached a good price, compared with the 250 million dinars paid in 2009 to order the plane, and said it would save on the parking costs in Bordeaux.
According to French daily Sud-Ouest, Ben Ali – who now lives in exile in Saudi Arabia – only used the plane once to test it before it was outfitted. Tunisair originally put the plane on the market in January 2012, saying that it had been outfitted with a living room and bedroom “to suit the travel needs of a head of state.”
The plane’s sale is part of a slow-moving effort to offload property amassed by Ben Ali and the Trabelsi family during their 23 years in power. Following their ousting, properties, luxury cars and businesses owned by 114 of the autocrat’s immediate family were confiscated by the state. It has since collected approximately $400 million from sales of the property, though officials say delays and consequent lack of maintenance mean much of the value has been lost.
Another Airbus A340 — this one luxuriously furnished for ousted Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi — has also been grounded for years at the French airport of Perpignan.