MEXICO CITY (AP) — After almost 4 1/2 years of trying, Mexico’s president said Thursday he has finally sold the unwanted presidential jet — to the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the government of Tajikistan paid the equivalent of about $92 million for the Boeing 787 jet.
López Obrador refused to use the jet after taking office on Dec. 1, 2018, saying it was too luxurious. The austerity-loving president usually takes commercial flights.
López Obrador had tried to lure corporations and business executives to buy the jet, but found no takers. He even symbolically “raffled off” the plane, which would be expensive to convert back into a normal airliner.
The plane was purchased for $200 million and was used by the previous president, Enrique Peña Nieto.
It has been difficult to sell because it is configured to carry only 80 people and has a full presidential suite with a private bath. Experts said it would be costly to reconfigure into a typical passenger jet that would carry up to 300 passengers.
Though the plane has relatively few miles on it, Mexico was eager to unload it because maintence costs make it expensive to keep parked. There had been talk the Boeing 787 might be turned over to an army-run company for use as a commercial jet.
“After a long time, we managed to sell the plane,” López Obrador said in a video clip from inside the plane, which he had previously refused to board. “We are happy.”
“We are going to use the money from selling the plane to build two hospitals,” he said.