RULING THE SKIES: FG spends N9 billion annually on 10-aircraft presidential fleet
Published:5 Dec, 2012
Information 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 contains a total of 10 aircraft, coming closely behind Aerocontractors 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 N9.08bn is spent to maintain the 10 presidential jets every year.
The PAF include 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 Siddley 125-800 jet.
Cost of running fleet
According to a former Minister of Information, Professor, Dora Akunyili, each of the two Falcon 7X jets purchased in 2010 cost $51.1m, while the Gulfstream 550 costs $53.3m.
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 $58m, 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, flight 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’ fleets
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 confirms 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 also 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’s.
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.
Countries like Ghana, Algeria and a host of others in Europe maintain only one aircraft in their PAF.
According to the NAF’s website, PAF’s current staff strength consists of 47 NAF officers, 173 airmen/airwomen and 96 civilian staff, both technical and administrative.
“The operational headquarters of the Fleet is located at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, while the administrative personnel are at the Federal Secretariat. The fleet has a liaison office at the Presidential Villa. Flight operations, training, aircraft maintenance and general running of the fleet are funded by the Presidency,” according to the website.
Spokesman for the President, Mr. Reuben Abati, could not be reached for comments on the PAF. Telephone calls made to his telephone line was not picked, while a text message sent was not also replied.