Saudi carrier blasts French seizure of aircraft

21st April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Saudi Arabian Airlines accused French authorities of behaving arbitrarily, saying the plane was deliberately seized on last Friday to tie up the aircraft for the weekend.

RIYADH – Saudi Arabian Airlines accused French authorities on Monday of behaving arbitrarily in the seizure of a Saudi Boeing 777-200 in a dispute with France-based leasing firm Eagle Aviation.

The state carrier's chief executive Khalid al-Melhem said the seizure was deliberately undertaken last Friday to tie up the aircraft over the weekend before a hearing on its contract dispute with Eagle scheduled for Tuesday, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Melhem called the action "arbitrary and irregular," SPA said.

The aircraft was seized on arrival from Riyadh by bailiffs acting on instructions from the Saint Nazaire commercial tribunal in the west of France.

The airline put up dozens of travellers in a hotel to wait for a new flight on Saturday, according to an airport source.

Eagle, an aircraft leasing firm based in Saint Nazaire, alleges that it is owed some two million dollars for providing the aircraft to Saudi.

But Melhem said the carrier disputes Eagle's claims, and pointed out that the leasing company had gone into bankruptcy supervision.

Melhem also said that contracts between the airline and Eagle stipulated that legal disputes be settled through the Saudi courts.

AFP / Expatica

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