Wednesday, January 2, 2013

► TUNISIA: Tunisia joins Madagascar, Malawi in offloading its unwanted Presidential Jet(s).

TunisiaTunisia is to auction off the Boeing 737-700 (MSN 29149 | TS-IOO) of deposed president Ben Ali, now on display in Dubai. A sale date of January 2013 has been announced though the overseer of the auction, Tunisair's CEO, Rabah Jrad, did not divulge the name of the aircraft's potential buyer.

Tunisian Presidential Jet 737
For sale (F Debattista)
Valued at USD32million (TUD50billion), the Boeing 737 is the second Tunisian presidential jet to go under the hammer. The first, an Airbus A340-500 (MSN 902 | TS-KRT), failed to attract a suitable buyer at auction in September 2012. The Airbus, valued at USD162million (TUD251million) is presently stored in Bordeaux, France.

Jrad said that, should the two presidential aircraft find willing buyers, the revenue generated is estimated to be USD225million (TUD350million), providing much needed cash to the Tunisian economy and Tunisair, currently digging itself out of a deep financial hole.

The sell off of Ben Ali's extravagances come at a time of growing austerity and the winds of change currently blowing across the African political landscape.  

Madagascar Presidential Jet B737
Sold (PresidentialAircraft)
In November, Madagascar sold off its Presidential Boeing 737-700 (MSN 29233 | 5R-MRP) to an undisclosed American company. The jet, bought under deposed President Marc Ravalomanana's government for USD24.5million in 2008, sold for USD60million. The purchase of the presidential jet was one of the causes of the ongoing political crisis in Madagascar between Ravalomanana and the current interim president, Andry Rajoelina, who replaced him in March 2009 with the backing of the military in the Indian Ocean island country. 

Malawi's new President, Joyce Banda, has also chosen to relinquish her predecessor's - Bingu wa Mutharika - presidential toy, a Dassault Falcon 900 EX (MSN 38 | 7Q-ONE). The jet was put up for sale in late December 2012 though no buyer, as yet, has been found.

Malawi Presidential Dassault Falcon 900
On sale (Airliners)
Malawi's Minister of Information and Civic Education, Moses Kunkuyu, said the money realised from the sale of the plane would go back to government coffers, where it came from, "in order to benefit Malawians in the best way possible".

Bought amid great criticism from locals and donors, the Dassault Falcon 900 is said to have cost the Malawian taxpayer USD$13.26 million. Ultimately, the purchase caused the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) to slash aid funds to the country.