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The Mexican presidential jet, a Boeing 787-8 (Photo: Mexican Government)

Mexican Presidential Jet Returns to Mexico From U.S., Waits for Offer

The luxury presidential jet Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner returned after being in the U.S. for more than 18 months for maintenance and in search of a buyer. The TP-01 presidential jet “José María Morelos y Pavón” landed at 2:36 p.m. on July 22 at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City. The aircraft will remain inside the presidential hangar.

According to Reuters, the sale has been hamstrung in part by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s unwillingness to accept offers below a United Nations-backed valuation of $130 million, even as the plane was potentially losing value as it sat unused in southern California. Lopez Obrador’s unorthodox plans to sell the plane included a raffle, where the plane was going to be the prize.

Later he said the raffle would be a lottery-style event, with 100 winners getting about $1 million each rather than the plane. Earlier this month, the government said Mexico was considering a $120 million bid for the jet after an unidentified prospective buyer offered to pay part in cash and part in medical equipment.

The sale of the “José María Morelos y Pavón” was a campaign promise made by Andrés Manuel López Obrador because he considered it an “excessive luxury” and a “corruption symbol”.

According to Infobae, the Mexican government spent around $1.2 million to keep the presidential jet in the U.S. since Dec. 3, 2018. The TP-01 presidential jet “José María Morelos y Pavón” was purchased by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón for $218 million in July 2012. The aircraft arrived in Mexico in 2016 and was used by the previous Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for 2 years.

The aircraft has a capacity for 80 people, and the main modifications made to it were the addition of satellite telephones, a high-class office with a boardroom, a bedroom with a king-size bed, marble details, and more.

A Difficult Sell

According to the BBC, there are three principal reasons that make difficult the Mexican presidential jet sale.

The first one is that the Mexican presidential jet was one of Boeing’s test planes, N787ZA, meaning it was put under a series of demanding tests — such as brake, endurance, autonomy, screening, failure management tests and performance in extreme conditions — by Boeing since 2009.

The British aeronautical Consultancy Ascend made a report in 2015 to the Mexican government, in which they conclude that the fact that the aircraft was a test plane is a factor that reduces its value and probability of sale. The specification and performance of the aircraft does not offer the advantages of the new Boeing 787.

Boeing’s first three test planes were shipped to museums and exhibits. Boeing recognized that they “had no commercial value” because of “the excessive amount of work and the unique and extensive modifications”. The fourth and fifth were discarded in 2016 by the manufacturer and their cost was absorbed by the company. Finally, the sixth was purchased by the Mexican government.

The second reason that makes the sale difficult is that it is a very personalized plane. The client market is reduced to high-profile individuals, private companies, charter companies, and governments.

The third reason is that the aircraft may not be of interest to airlines. Converting it to a passenger plane would cost up to $15 million and take up to an 18-month period to install all the necessary components.

Juan Pedro Sanchez Zamudio
Juan Pedro Sanchez Zamudio
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