Algeria: An idle, pricey presidential plane
The plane, an Airbus A340-500, was bought for a whopping $312 million, after which it was completely custom-fitted for President Adelaziz Bouteflika.
Bouteflika was apparently unsatisfied traveling with the national carrier for his official visits, forcing the government to part with the princely sum for the jet.
The plane was officially commissioned in 2010 after over $40 million had gone into fitting it with a medical unit, sleeping chamber with an en-suite bathroom, offices and anti-missiles.
Bouteflika, according to reports, also requested private spaces on the plane for his two brothers who have become a frequent feature on his travels.
But shortly after requesting the special, identifiable presidential plane, Bouteflika’s health waned.
According to sources, apart from traveling aboard a Gulfstream jet, which whisks the ailing leader to France every now and then for medical check-ups, Algeria’s top man and his “Air Force Boutef” have all but stayed put.
By end 2014, four years after its commissioning, the log books had registered a little above a 30 mean flight hours, a number only reached after Bouteflika’s long haul flight to Canada for the G8 summit in 2010.
The shiny new plane has been used for official tours only three or four times. To keep its engine spick and span, it embarks on periodic, brief maintenance trips to Tindouf, Tamanrasset or Djanet, in the country’s south.
As analysts draw parallels with former Algerian President Chadli Bendjedid who saw his presidential jet (a Tristar) sold off to a Gulf country, costing the country some $40 million, after his term in office, Algerians are wondering about the presidential plane’s fate.
The plane’s maintenance is assured by the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in the south of France, where it was built.