Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto addresses the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters on September 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo : Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Enrique Pena Nieto is currently getting some flak after showing off his very luxurious “Palace in the Sky,” a jet that was allegedly left to him as a gift by his predecessor, Felipe Calderon.
Telesurtv reported that the super deluxe presidential aircraft was valued at $430 million, which is about twice the sum that all political parties in Mexico will be spending in 2016. Mexican citizens will be paying for the luxurious jet, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, until 2027. The process of buying the airplane was initiated by former president Calderon and it was only near the end of his term that the plan for acquisition was made known to most of the public.
The jet features twin aisles and can transport up to 250 passengers at about 1,000 miles per hour. The aircraft can travel directly from Los Angeles to Tokyo without stopovers and may even be more advanced than Air Force One, SanDiegoRed wrote. The plane has an average lifespan of 25 years.
Several people have been complaining about the very expensive aircraft extending way beyond the 2016 austerity budget. In 2015, Pena Nieto also spent $420 million in government propaganda. Mexican magazine Proceso cited that the amount could have been paid by the previous propaganda or allocated to more useful projects like hospitals. The extravagant purchase spurred social discontentment, with the current administration facing complaints of multiple corruption allegations, human rights violations and a stagnant economy. 60 million Mexicans are living in poverty. The new aircraft is also costlier than the planes of the heads of other more powerful states like the United States, China, Russia and Germany.
The Pena Nieto administration countered by saying that the value of the aircraft and its new Presidential Hanger in the airport in Mexico City is lower than the $580 million budget allocated by Calderon in the final year of his problematic administration. MexicoGulfReporter wrote that in fairness to the current administration, they did not order the luxurious aircraft. Before the new presidential jet’s arrival, the Mexican president and his cabinet were flying on military planes aged between 25 to 30 years old. It was the first time that the government purchased an exclusive aircraft for the head of state. The Dreamliner was ordered in August 2012. The issue arose when the aircraft was outfitted, significantly increasing the final price from around $250 million to $430 million.
The inaugural flight of the “Palace in the Sky” will be on Jan. 20, 2016, bound for Davos, Switzerland. The Mexican president will be attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016.