Force Aérienne Gabonaise (Libreville Leon M'Ba) is set to take repossession of the Gabonese presidential jet that was impounded at Paris Orly in late February following a Paris court ruling which stated the aircraft could not be seized as it is diplomatically immune.

Swiss firm Travcon AG seized the aircraft, ex-Varig B777-200(ER) TR-KPR (msn 27108), at Paris Orly on February 25 claiming it was still owed USD8 million by the Gabonese state for VIP-outfitting work done.

The move soon triggered a diplomatic stand off between Libreville and Paris with the Gabonese ambassador to France recalled home for consultations. For its part, the government said it did not recognize the debt claiming it had never had any dealings with the Swiss firm.

As such, the Gabon Review says lawyers representing the Gabonese government successfully argued before the district court of Ivry-sur-Seine this week that the aircraft could not be impounded as it was technically sovereign Gabonese territory and is therefore covered by diplomatic immunity. With the ruling in hand, the aircraft is now free to return to Gabon.

The announcement comes days after a PrivatAir (Switzerland) B757-200, operating for ECAIR - Equatorial Congo Airlines (EQR, Brazzaville), was seized at Paris CDG by Congolese businessman François Odzali over claims the Republic of Congo's government, as part of owners of the carrier, still owed him EUR70 million (USD76.3 million) for the destruction of an industrial complex during the country's 1997 civil war and for non-payment of electrification work.