This is the sight that greeted a group of billionaires after they attempted to land in the south of France and travel to their £50,000 a night luxury villa during the coronavirus lockdown. The party of ten, three businessmen, three young women and various staff, were planning to fly by helicopter to a stunning £60m villa called Alang Alang where they would stay during the Covid-19 pandemic. But customs and police officers barred them from stepping off the jet and ordered them to return to the UK following a three-hour standoff on the tarmac.
Video obtained by Mail Online – and filmed from inside the private jet – shows a dozen police waiting on the tarmac. An official in a red high-vis jacket can be seen talking with a police officer moments after the private jet landed at Marseille-Provence airport.
A member of the travelling party told Mail Online they were not holidaymakers but three billionaires on their way to the cliffside villa to complete a business deal that would have created over 900 jobs.
He claimed the others in the party were bodyguards, a secretary and translators.
The businessman would not give any further details but said the trip had been booked days in advance with airport authorities and blamed the French authorities for being ‘stupid’. He said:’ The problem was the stupid ignorance in the time of Covid 19.
‘This was not a holiday in France but a big a project and investment in France. But now and for the future it has stopped.’ The businessman claimed the failure of the project would mean 994 jobs would not be created.
Police said the seven men who had flown from Farnborough airfield in Hampshire were in their 40s and 50s.
They described the women, aged in their 20s, as escorts and have not released their names. The party had flown to France on a Embraer Legacy jet that cost £5,300 an hour to hire from the Lonodn PrivateFly charter company.
Three helicopters that had been booked to fly the group to the property were not allowed to take off. The pilots were fined on the spot by police for breaking the lockdown rules imposed by the French Government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
As the group from the UK had not technically step foot on French soil they were not fined. Police said one of super rich men hired a private jet at the airport and flew to Germany.
The others, led by a wealthy Croatian who lives in London and had paid for the entire trip flew, flew back to the UK. Others on the flight were German, French, Romanian and Ukranian, according to police.
The party were headed to the most luxurious villa in the South of France called ‘Alang, Alang.’ It was valued at over £50m a year ago when it was put up for sale and during peak season is rented out for £360,000 a month.
As well as eight bedrooms it features its own cinema room and multiple terraces with sweeping views of the Mediterranean. There is also a private beach, spa, steam room and an indoor and outdoor pool.
A private nightclub is on the ground floor and the home includes a gym and fitness room. The villa is often booked by the super-rich during the summer and a popular retreat for movie moguls during the Cannes film festival.
Sting once performed at the villa during an impromptu concert for music executives attending a wrap party at the Cannes Lion festival. The house is owned by a British property developer who bought the original plot from disgraced arms dealer Adam Khashoggi.
He knocked down the original house and built the new villa which is available to rent. Luxury property websites describe it as the ‘ultimate setting’ on the French Riviera.
The description says: Impeccably designed and decorated, the villa is the ultimate setting for an unforgettable holiday in the French Riviera’s most glamorous resort. As you walk into the main house you’ll be welcomed to your home away from home by a spectacular living wall with a tropical water feature, which sets the tone for the rest of your stay. Relax by the magnificent outdoor infinity pool and jacuzzi, enjoy an after-dinner cigar in the custom-built wine cellar, or simply sit back and enjoy the panoramic sea views from one of the villa’s multiple terraces, a stay at the Villa Alang Alang is a truly unique holiday experience.
The party of ten had chartered a jet from London based PrivateFly company.
Correspondence seen by Mail Online shows that the flight had been booked on March 30th with the relevant documents sent to the French authorities.
The company had also arranged for the helicopter transfer to the Cannes villa. Even though travellers are still allowed to enter France the Government last week tightened the lockdown and said only essential trips needed to be made.
A source in French police said the organiser of the trip – a Croatian national working in finance and estate agency in the UK – had ‘paid for everything’. He reportedly said to French police that ‘I have money, let’s talk’ when they confronted him on the plane.
‘He was looking forward to the break, with his friends and young female escorts,’ said the source. He said they would all go to the villa, and lockdown there, and that there would be no problem.
‘But it was obviously a recreational trip, and under the containment measures these are strictly prohibited.’ A spokesman for PrivateFly was unavailable for comment.
France’s coronavirus death toll rose to 12,210 on Thursday, and there are now 7,062 people in intensive care units at hospitals across the country. France has been in lockdown since March 17 in a bid to slow the spread of the pandemic, with only essential trips allowed that must be justified with a signed piece of paper.
Health director Jérôme Salomon said the lockdown was working: ‘Thanks to these measures, we are in the process of putting the brakes on the epidemic.’ The lockdown, which was supposed to run until April 15, will be extended beyond that date, it was announced on Wednesday.
President Emmanuel Macron will discuss the coronavirus situation in a live TV address to the nation on Monday.
» Source » By Paul Thompson