Turkey sinks Airbus jet to boost diving tourism

Turkey sinks Airbus jet to boost diving tourism

ISTANBUL - Agence France-Presse
Turkey sinks Airbus jet to boost diving tourism

AA photo

Turkish authorities have sunk an A300 Airbus jet off a resort on the Aegean Sea with the aim of boosting diving tourism in the region.

The giant plane was put to the bottom of the sea on June 4 off the popular resort of Kuşadası in Aydın province.

The sinking of the giant plane with a wingspan of 44 meters (144 feet) and a length of 54 meters (177 feet) is aimed at promoting artificial reef diving which is hugely popular with experienced divers.

Once sunken, the plane acts like a reef, becoming a magnet for underwater flora and fauna.

The 36-year-old aircraft had been bought by Aydın municipality from a private aviation firm for 270,000 Turkish liras ($93,000).     

Turkey is looking for new ways to promote its key tourism industry, which is expected to suffer a battering this year due to the security situation after a string of deadly attacks.

Hundreds of people watched the two-and-a-half hour sinking on nearby boats, cheering and blasting their foghorns as the nose of the plane finally went down, video images showed.

“Our goal is to make Kuşadası a center of diving tourism,” said Aydin’s mayor Özlem Çerçioğlu.     

“Our goal is to protect the underwater life. And with these goals in mind, we have witnessed one of the biggest wrecks in the world.”   

Three small planes have been sunk off Turkish resorts of recent years in the hope of promoting dive tourism but this is the first time Turkey has sent such a large aircraft to the bottom of the sea.