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Surprise as ‘Lebanese’ plane lands in Israel

Boeing 737 with ‘Wings of Lebanon’ logo arouses curiosity at Ben Gurion airport, turns out to be Turkish

Airplane with Wings of Lebanon livery (CC BY-SA Maarten Visser, Flickr)
Airplane with Wings of Lebanon livery (CC BY-SA Maarten Visser, Flickr)

An unlikely sight greeted employees and travelers at Israel’s largest international airport Wednesday: a plane that appeared to have come from Lebanon, a country with which Israel is still in a state of war.

The Boeing 737 was on the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport bearing the name and colors of the Wings of Lebanon airline.

Rumors of visiting Lebanese dignitaries or a secret meeting circulated in the airport, Ynet reported.

“I rubbed my eyes and thought I was dreaming,” said one airport worker. “I couldn’t understand what was going on. I looked at the passengers but everything seemed completely fine. Then I realized that nothing dramatic was going on.”

It turned out there was a straightforward explanation for the strange sight. The passenger plane is operated by a Turkish airline that regularly flies to Israel, and also lends planes to the Lebanese airline whose brand was painted on its side.

The plane in question had come from Antalya in Turkey, and belonged to the Turkish company Tailwind Airlines, which runs regular flights to Israel.

The airline operates seven planes and has leased the 17-year-old Boeing 737 seen Wednesday from AerCap since January 2015. Tailwind, in turn, has been leasing the plane to the Wings of Lebanon airline since June 2016. It is not clear why the airline switched planes in Antalya and sent the usually-Lebanon-bound plane to Israel.

The plane returned to Antalya in the afternoon on its regularly scheduled flight.

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