Reasons given for the decision to purchase new president jet not valid – Aviation Analyst

The current Falcon

Aviation analyst, Captain Yao Foli, has said that the reason that have been given by the government to purchase a new presidential jet are not valid.

He said the current presidential jet, the Falcon, is fit for purpose hence, the local economic should not be overburdened at this time with the move to buy new one.

The government has announced plans to purchase a new presidential jet for the president’s foreign travels.

This was disclosed by the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin at the Jubilee House Monday, September 27 during the Presidency’s weekly press briefing.

According to Mr Arhin, the government of Ghana through the Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul has already started the processes for the procurement of the new jet. 

“You would recollect that when the government of President Kufuor left office in 2008, it had procured two jets – the current Falcon and a bigger one but for one reason or the other, the bigger jet was cancelled, and we were left with just one. That has happened, but you will recall that the Defence Minister stated clearly that the government has decided to buy a bigger jet to save us from all these troubles.”

“I don’t want to go into the details, but I am sure that when the Minister gets the opportunity, he will give further information on what the government is doing in that respect, but I am sure of the fact that government is already in the process of getting a bigger jet for use”, he told pressmen Monday.

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This revelation comes at a time when the Presidency has dismissed claims made by Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, that Akufo-Addo uses luxury chartered jets while on foreign travels which according to him has cost Ghana GH¢10 million so far.

The presidency has however failed to disclose the cost of the president’s travel.

When the North Tongu MP filed an urgent question on the floor of Parliament to have the Minister of Finance respond to the cost of the President’s foreign travels the first time, the Minister asked for more time to get the figures but he later appeared before the House and said the issue was a matter of National Security.

The MP says he will not relent in his efforts to demand accountability from the government on the matter.

The Minister for Defense, Dominic Nitiwul, for his part, told Parliament that the Falcon 900 Ex-Easy, is not for in good condition for it to be used for long haul journeys that takes nine hours or more to cover.

According to him, the Falcon 900 Ex-Easy which is 11 years old now has developed two engine faults while airborne during the period and though serviceable, it could not be used for long journeys without refueling stops.

Besides, the Falcon 900 Ex-Easy which is the property of Ghana but held in trust by the Ghana Air Force lacks enough office space to accommodate about 100 or more passengers and also lacks space for Presidents who use it to refreshing up before attending meetings.

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As a result of these, government had to spend US$50million over the last ten years to airlift soldiers going on United Nations Peace Keeping Missions. Apart from that, the country had to spend more on staffers who travel with the President on official duties.

“We must remember that ideally, a President must travel with his Office, thus, the staffers who must be around him to enable him perform his duties effectively even whilst abroad. As well, it is important that he travels with security and also the Presidential Press Corps when necessary. Currently, when the President uses the Falcon 900 Ex-Easy Jet, most of these other necessary staffers travel commercial with increased cost as well as often suffering attendant delays in transit because of the lack of direct flights to the ultimate destinations. Where the President has to travel to two or three destinations on a trip, two or three separate staff units have to be deployed to each of the countries. With the difficulty of air travel, especially with in Africa, staffers sometimes do not arrive at the intended destinations in time to make the programs. Ultimately, the cost is also a huge drawback as well”, he told Parliament on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in response to a question posed by the NDC MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.

But speaking on the Key Points on TV3/3FM programme on Saturday October 2, Captain Foli said “If we are saying that it has technical difficulties that worries me because an eleven year old aircraft, in aviation term, is just a teenager.

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“So if at eleven years it is having technical problems then we must start looking at how we maintain our aircraft. It also means that if we get a new one that we are asking for, ten years down the line we are going to have technical challenges again. In the midst of or economic challenges let’s make do with what we have. None of these three arguments being used to justify buying a new presidential jet, in my opinion is valid.

If we are financially constraint as the arguments points out, then I think that the Falcon is fit for purpose.”

By Laud Nartey||Ghana