Turkish Airlines buys plane made for Tunisia’s ousted president

The Turkish firm bought the Airbus A340 for $78 million, says a Tunisair spokeswoman

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A plane originally intended for Tunisia’s toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been sold to Turkish Airlines, Tunisair said Sunday, six years after it was grounded following his ouster.

The Turkish firm bought the Airbus A340 for 181 million dinars ($78 million), Tunisair spokeswoman Amal Bourguiba said, without giving a date for the sale.

The A340 had arrived in the French airport of Bordeaux in the autumn of 2010 to be equipped for Ben Ali's use, but a popular uprising in Tunisia toppled the dictator early the next year.

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 put the plane on the market in January 2012, saying it had been outfitted with a living room and bedroom “to suit the travel needs of a head of state.”

Another Airbus A340 -- this one luxuriously furnished for slain Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi-- has also been grounded for years in the French airport of Perpignan.

The plane, which a Kuwaiti firm was once interested in buying, still in theory belongs to Libya, a country that has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 revolt that toppled and killed Qaddafi.

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