President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is billed to splash over N5 billion on his presidential fleet this year. Information available to ENCOMIUM Weekly revealed that the Presidency has made a proposal for an upfront deposit of N1.5billion for a brand new private jet, which will become the Presidential Air Fleet’s (PAF) 11th aircraft. This figure is contained in the details of the 2014 Appropriation Bill presented to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan through the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The Federal Government has also budgeted another N1.52 billion for the maintenance of the 10 aircraft currently in the PAF in 2014. Although the brand of the aircraft is shrouded in secrecy, speculations are rife that it’s a Bombardier jet within the range of N4.5 billion. We gathered that the proposal has generated heated debate amongst followers and critics of Mr. President.
And their argument was hinged on the fact that PAF already boasts two Falcon 7X jets, two Falcon 900 jets, Gulfstream 550, one Boeing 737 BBJ (Nigerian Air Force 001 or Eagle One), and Gulfstream IVSP. Others are one Gulfstream V, Cessna Citation 2 aircraft and Hawker Siddley125-800 jet.
The combined estimated value of the PAF is about $390.5m (N60.53bn). According to industry experts private jets are money guzzlers either in the air or on land and thus are very expensive to maintain.
ENCOMIUM Weekly revealed that the Presidency has used about N 9.08 billion in the past on maintenance of presidential fleet.
Information reportedly obtained from government aviation agencies and airline operators has revealed that President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration spends an estimated N9.08bn annually on the Presidential Air fleet.
PAF has the third largest fleet of aircraft in the country. According to findings, the PAF has a total of 10 aircraft, coming closely behind Aero Contractors Airlines, which has a total of 14 aircraft.
Arik Air, the largest commercial airline in the country, has a fleet of 23 aircraft.
Figures obtained from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority revealed that N9.08 billion is spent to maintain the 10 presidential jets every year.
Cost of running fleet
According to a former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, each of the two Falcon 7X jets purchased in 2010 costs $51.1 million, while the Gulfstream 550 costs $53.3 million.
The factory price of other aircraft in the fleet could not be easily obtained online. However, airline CEOs put the average price of Falcon 900 at $35m, Gulfstream IVSP as $40m, Gulfstream V at $45m, Boeing 737 BBJ at $58 million, Cessna Citation is $7m and Hawker Siddley 125-800 at $15m.
This brings a combined estimated value of Nigeria’s PAF to $390.5m (N60.53bn).
According to airline chief executives and industry experts, airlines spend between 15 and 20 per cent of the cost of an aircraft on its operation yearly. They say that averagely, a little less than one-fifth of the cost of the plane is spent every year on insurance, flights and cabin crew, maintenance, fuelling, catering and training.
Going by the fact that at least 15 per cent of this amount is spent annually on operating the PAF, it means about $58.57m (N9.08bn) is spent annually on running the planes. Nigeria happens to be one of few countries of the world with a large PAF.
Other countries’ fleet
Most major countries in Europe and Asia maintain mostly two aircraft in their Presidential Air Fleet, according to Wikipedia.
According to the website, Japan maintains only two Boeing 747-400 planes in its Presidential Air Fleet.
The two aircraft, mostly for the Prime Minister, the Emperor, Empress and other members of the Imperial Family, is operated by the Japan Air Self-Defence Force.
The aircraft were constructed at the Boeing factory at the same time as the United States’ Air Force One. Both Japanese aircraft were delivered in 1990.
Wikipedia also confirmed that the Netherlands government operates only two aircraft, one Fokker 70 and one Gulfstream IV, as a means of transport for the Dutch Royal family and government officials, such as the prime minister and other ministers.
They are used also to attend international conferences, and also for private trips by the Queen and the Prince of Orange.
For long haul trips the Royal Dutch Airline is used. Often the upper deck of a Boeing 747 is used.
The Queen of England and Prime Minister, David Cameron often go on British Airways chartered flights for long trips. UK’s Cameron was recently criticised by the UK media for chartering a foreign plane instead of a British.
According to Wikipedia, The Royal Squadron of the Royal Air Force maintains a fleet of Agusta A109 helicopters, BAE-125 mid-sized business jet and BAE-146 regional airliner to support short travel by the Royal Family, the Prime Minister and senior members of the British Government.
– FEMI OYEWALE