Mexico finally sold the presidential jet after years without finding a client. The aircraft bought for 219 million dollars eleven years ago has now been sold for 92 million dollars to Tajikistan.
The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), on April 20, announced that the presidential aircraft was finally sold for 1.66 billion pesos (92 million dollars) after years without finding a client.
AMLO, who appears on the plane in a video shared on his social networks, said the government of Tajikistan bought the presidential jet he refused to use.
According to the Mexican statement, Goscominvest, the State Committee on Investment and State Property Management of the Republic of Tajikistan, already deposited the funds for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to the Instituto para Devolver al Pueblo lo Robado (Indep), a “Robin Hood institute” created by the president to return the wealth stolen by corrupt politicians and gangsters to the people, he claimed.
When he took office in 2018, AMLO refused to use the presidential plane. He considered it too luxurious and a waste of public money. He put the aircraft on sale as part of a pledge from his presidential campaign to set an example of government frugality. The president usually travels on commercial flights takes the train or car.
But Mexico has been struggling to find a client.
Valued at 115 million dollars in 2021
The TP-01 José María Morelos y Pavón was designed for only 80 people plus the crew, and included a full presidential suite with a master bedroom and a king-size bed, a treadmill, a private shower and a bathroom with marble finishes.
President Felipe Calderon ordered the plane in 2012 to replace the longest-running presidential jet (28 years) after the secretary of the Interior, José Francisco Blake Mora, and all passengers died in a helicopter accident in November 2011.
The TP-01, now called FAM 3523, was delivered in 2016 when Enrique Peña Nieto was President.
The plane cost 2.95 billion pesos, or 219 million dollars, with an exchange rate of 13.5 pesos per dollar (18 pesos are currently worth one dollar), according to the Mexican government. In 2015, Mr. Nieto ordered a review to assess the possibility of selling the aircraft even before receiving it amid budget concerns.
Ascend Flightglobal estimated it could be sold to a commercial airline for 58 percent of its price, for 128 million dollars in 2016, because of the costs to convert the aircraft into a commercial airliner. With no modifications, the aviation consultancy group estimated it could be sold at 30 to 35 percent of the price in dollars if the deal went through within 36 months.
But Mr. Nieto decided to keep the plane given the “loss that the sale to the public treasury would cause” because of the cost to replace the jet at an unfavorable exchange rate (approximately the same as the current exchange rate).
Soon after his election, Mr. López Obrador asked the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which provides infrastructure, procurement and project management services, to help sell Mexico’s presidential airplane. Then in June 2021, the UNOPS opened a tender, valued the jet at 2.3 billion pesos minimum, 115 million dollars, and expected to sell it in four months.
Eleven years after the original order, the airplane, which is expected to operate until 2040, has now been sold 92 million dollars, 58 percent less than its original price.
Money from the sale invested in building two hospitals
After more than 1,700 hours of flight and 600,000 kilometers in over 200 trips,the presidential plane was now only flown to transport supplies, food, or for maintenance. The Mexican Olympic delegation used the presidential jet to carry sports and medical material for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, but athletes flew commercial.
Parked at the Mexico City International Airport, its maintenance, such as software updates and security, proved costly, with almost 100 million pesos (5.6 million dollars) spent in the five years it has been grounded, according to El Universal.
The transaction will save 232 million pesos (13 million dollars) of interest rates from the 15-year financial leasing with Banobras, the National Bank of public works and services. The remaining funds will be used to build two hospitals, one in Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero, and one in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, with 80 beds each.
Officials from Tajikistan didn’t communicate about the transaction, but local news entities published the information. The country, ruled by autocratic leader Emomali Rahmon, has ten days to take the aircraft home.