Private Jets of World Leaders
It’s no secret that the world’s most powerful leaders are often transported by highly specialized aircraft. Some manage with only one, while others have entire fleets of customized aircraft at their disposal.
Air Charter Service specializes in several niches of air transportation; government charters for heads of state, cargo charters for humanitarian relief, private jet charters for leisure and more. Using research and intel from our 20 worldwide offices, our team assembled a global comparative analysis of the aircraft used by some of the world’s most influential leaders. We share the results of this global study with you below.
Vladimir Putin’s flagship aircraft is the Russian-made IL-96-300PU. It is a wide-bodied, long-haul airliner that is easily distinguishable from the passenger model by its extended fuselage fairing. The government installed an advanced communication system on board that allows the aircraft to act as a management centre capable of carrying out the prompt commandment of troops in case of unexpected conflict.
Putin’s IL-96-300PU aircraft specifications
The sheer size of the snow-white airliner demands respect. Its length reaches almost 65 metres, and the wingspan exceeds 65 metres. The differences between the technical characteristics of the IL-96-300PU and the basic passenger model are minimal. Like the original, the maximum takeoff mass of the presidential aircraft is around 270 tonnes and max cruising speed tops out at 900 kilometres per hour. The service ceiling of the aircraft is 12,000 metres. However, modifications have been made to the maximum flight length without refuelling. Putin’s IL-96-300PU has a significantly longer range than the standard model.
While the exterior of the aircraft looks largely the same as the basic model, the cabin is lavishly decorated with tapestries and gold accents. The furniture and interior décor are finished in the neoclassical style. The current interior design was completed according to the sketches of Ivan Glazunov, the son of revered Russian artist Ilya Glazunov. The interior has been fully customized to allow the president to work and rest in comfort. The presidential airplane is equipped with a spacious office, a bedroom and a fully-equipped gym.
Of course, an airliner as large as the IL-96-300PU requires superior security. This coverage is provided by the pilots of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ special squad, both inside and outside of Russian territory. Putin’s personal aircraft has several layers of protection against potential attacks from land or from the air. The aircraft’s body has a special coating that makes the plane less visible to RCS, an automated system of jamming and disorienting radars, as well as its own anti-aircraft defence system. Further details on the plane’s security are a state secret protected by the Federal Security Service.
Russia’s presidential fleet
The presidential air squad is comprised of four of the president‘s first-choice aircraft rather than one. This is not a case of reliability, but one of security. As soon as knowledge of an international flight is public, all four aircraft are readied for departure. The specific plane to be used by Vladimir Putin is not known until take-off. After the choice is made, either one or all three of the remaining airplanes follow the president as the reserve. In total, the air squad's fleet is made up of 68 airplanes. 64 of them are utilised, while the remaining four are kept in storage.
Estimated aircraft model cost
What is the total building cost of each presidential IL-96-300PU? It is impossible to find an exact answer based on the available information. However, we are able to estimate that the basic cost of the IL-96-300PU is around 60 million dollars. On top of that, the price of the presidential passenger cabin, security measures, communication systems and changes in airliner construction could raise this cost substantially.
Air Force One is the name of any United States Air Force aircraft carrying the President of the United States at any time. Unlike the Russian leader, Donald Trump relies primarily on two identical customized aircraft. The aircraft are heavily modified Boeing 747-200B models and are referred to within the government by their military designation, VC-25A. If an airport is unable to accommodate the VC-25A due to its landing strip capacity, a more compact Boeing C-32 is used. The presidential air fleet is positioned under the administration of the 89th airlift wing, located at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
Air Force One specifications
The Boeing 747 is the first double-decker, long-haul, wide-bodied passenger airplane in the world. From the moment of production it was the largest aircraft of the civic air force. Even now, its dimensions are impressive: the length is over 70 metres, the wingspan is 65 metres, and the width of the fuselage is 6.5 metres. The maximum speed is almost 1,000 kilometres per hour and the flight range of the basic version is approximately 14,000 kilometres.
Similar to Russia’s IL-96-300PU, the extensive modification of the two Boeing 747-200Bs was specifically designed for the President of the United States. The VC-25A has better fuel economy and an increased flight range over the original model. Alterations allowing refuelling of the airliner during flight theoretically allow the aircraft to remain in the sky for an indefinite period of time.
Similar to Vladimir Putin’s IL-96-300PU, Trump’s VC-25A serves as a chief government management centre during prolonged flights. Air Force One has a number of secure communication channels including satellite. The aircraft’s security systems are prepared to protect from standard attacks as well as any unusual occurrences such as targeted electromagnetic impulses. The VC-25A is also equipped with a medical suite that acts as a fully functional operating room.
The first interior of the Boeing VC-25A was designed by Nancy Reagan, the wife of President Ronald Reagan, in an American Southwest style that has since been updated. The airliners have been occasionally modernised to improve the radio navigation and the communication equipment features and to alter the aircraft’s interior according to the new president's preferences.
The President of the United States has substantial living space on board. With a cabin area exceeding 370 square metres, the president’s accommodations include a bedroom, bathroom, gym and offices. Of course, the president is unable to travel alone and is always accompanied by a large retinue. Air Force One has personal space for each of the retinue members. Higher ranks have separate offices at their disposal, while others have a place to work and to rest. There is a separate area for the accompanying news reporters. Altogether, the presidential aircraft is capable of comfortably accommodating 70 passengers and 26 members of the crew.
Estimated aircraft model cost
As with Russia’s airplane, it is difficult to calculate the exact cost of the VC-25A. We do know that at the time of construction in 1990, the cost of the passenger version was 100 million dollars. The modifications and improvements of the flight characteristics, the installation of the communication equipment and security systems will have increased the cost of the aircraft substantially. Bearing in mind that each of the VC-25As were modernised and reworked, we could speculate that an estimated 1 billion dollars may have been spent on each of the American President’s Boeing 747-200Bs.
Unlike his colleagues who have multiple airplanes, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping does not own a personal aircraft. The leader of the People’s Republic of China uses two Boeing 747-400’s belonging to Air China airlines (tail numbers B-2447 and B-2472) for his government visits and business trips. The catalogue value of these planes at the time of construction was approximately 250 million dollars each.
Both of the airliners are used for regular passenger flights by Air China airlines. However, as soon as the president plans an upcoming foreign visit, the airplanes are carefully examined by the leader’s security service, which may take up to several weeks. After the examinations, the aircraft are sent to refitting during which some of the cabin’s seats are dismantled and replaced with a spacious living room, a bedroom and an office. Specific details of the ongoing manipulations are not known. After the government leader’s return to his native land, the airplanes are given back to Air China and returned to the original state to be used for passenger flights again.
Xin Jinping’s aircraft interior
It is only possible to view the interior of the president’s altered Air China Boeing 747-400s through a limited number of official photographs taken on board, in particular those taken during the negotiations of Xi Jinping with the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Several sources report that the interior design of the PRC’s presidential aircraft is rather austere and far from lavish or luxurious.
Why hasn’t the president of the People’s Republic gotten his own permanent aircraft? This question has already been raised by one of the predecessors of Xi Jinping, Jiang Zemin. Newly purchased airplanes, which were planned to be the analogues to the Russian and American presidential airliners, were delivered to the San Antonio airport (United States) for refitment. However, the Chinese leaders have never used them after the remodelling was completed.
According to the American press, it is possible that upon the airplane's arrival, members of the PRC’s national security system found a number of listening devices in the cabin. China’s only commentary came a few months later from the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stating “there was no objective need for eavesdropping.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s most famous aircraft is an Airbus A340-313X VIP referred to as the Konrad Adenauer after the first postwar Chancellor of Germany. In addition to the Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor Merkel has several other planes at her disposal, all managed by the the German armed forces.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s most famous aircraft is an Airbus A340-313X VIP referred to as the Konrad Adenauer after the first postwar Chancellor of Germany. In addition to the Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor Merkel has several other planes at her disposal, all managed by the the German armed forces.
The fleet available to Chancellor Merkel and her closest advisors is quite extensive and handles a wide range of tasks. A Eurocopter AS532 can be used for flights around Germany and other close countries. For longer flights up to 2,000 kilometres, Angela Merkel has access to four business jets, including a Bombardier Global 5000 valued at around 70 million dollars and two Airbus A319-133X CJs each costing more than 150 million dollars. The Airbus has a range of over 6,000 kilometres, but is rarely used for transcontinental flights.
The most famous planes in the German government’s fleet are its flagship, the Airbus A340-313X VIP known as “Konrad Adenauer” and its twin, “Theodor Heuss.” The Konrad Adenauer is named after the first Chancellor of (West) Germany and Theodor Heuss is named for its first President. At the end of March 2011, the planes were transferred from Lufthansa airline to the special unit of the military’s administration dedicated to government transport. Until then, the airplanes had been used for regular passenger flights for Lufthansa Airlines.
After numerous remodelling and reconstruction projects, the aircraft were transformed into comfortable, modern, and secure personal aircraft for Angela Merkel. The Airbus A340-313X VIPs can accommodate approximately 150 passengers each. There are apartments with showers, bedrooms, offices, a conference hall with video communication equipment and a completely soundproof room for negotiations.
The air fleet of the German Chancellor is equipped with the IFF (identification, friend or foe) system, systems of missile defence, as well as additional fuel tanks, allowing for non-stop flights up to 13,500 kilometres. This impressive range is enough to get from Berlin to Washington, Beijing or Rio de Janeiro.
Aircraft model estimated base cost
The Konrad Adenauer and the Theodor Heuss are in no way inferior to Donald Trump’s Air Force One or Putin’s IL-96-300PU. Compared to Trump’s Boeing 747-200B, Germany’s Airbus A340-313X VIP can carry more passengers (147 instead of 102). Konrad Adenauer and Theodor Heuss cost approximately 300 million dollars each.
France has spared no expense for the air transport of former president François Hollande. The aircraft of the Fifth Republic's ex president, the Airbus A330-200, is elegant and modern, costing around 270 million dollars. Similar to the other planes of world powers with nuclear weaponry, François Hollande’s primary aircraft is not purely a comfortable means of transport for long distances. It is also a management centre, that allows for real-time command of the main governmental bodies and military troops.
The former French president’s Airbus A330-200 has a bedroom with a large bed, a bathroom, a dressing room, a kitchen, an office, a soundproof negotiation room for 12 people, a mini operating room, as well as a space designated for journalists and members of the delegation accompanying him. Communication equipment on the airliner includes a number of secure connection channels that are capable of passing top secret information and encrypted messages.
The history behind the Fifth Republic’s acquisition of the Airbus A330-200 is an interesting one. Prior to 2010, leaders of France used an Airbus A319 for official air travel. However, in 2009 an incident occurred with one of the planes. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France at the time, led the representational governmental delegation on a multi-day tour across the countries of the African continent. Prior to takeoff, the plane was forced to return from the airstrip due to the failure of one of the A319 engines. Although the reserve aircraft’s system worked perfectly throughout the rest of the tour, upon the President's return to France, the decision was made to sell both of the Airbus A319s. They purchased one Airbus A330-200 that was previously in use by François Hollande.
Hollande’s Presidential fleet
The air fleet of the former French president also includes two reactive Dassault Falcons 7Xs. These aircraft were purchased in 2009 and 2010 due to their universality, as they are equally proficient in both relatively short and transatlantic flights. Additionally, these smaller planes are much more suitable to some of the shorter airstrips in France and countries of its primary interests.
During the presidency of Sarkozy, one of the Falcon 7Xs was named after the First Lady of the country, Carla Bruni. It is difficult to say why, but former president François Hollande, who replaced Nicolas Sarkozy, still used the name when he could have easily renamed it.
The Queen of England, members of the Royal family and Great Britain’s government rely upon the 32nd squadron of the United Kingdom for transportation. These include two AW109 helicopters for travelling distances under 1,000 kilometres, six BAE-125 airplanes with a flight range up to 3000 kilometres, as well as four mid-sized reactive BAE-146 airplanes that are used primarily on the territory of the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II also has a personal helicopter, Sikorsky S-76 Spirit, as part of the Royal Household. The total cost of the 32nd squadron fleet of the United Kingdom is around 100 million dollars. Until recently, the Royal Family leased ordinary Boeing 747s or Boeing 777s from British Airways or Virgin Atlantic airways for travelling long distances. Currently, the Queen and her family members can be transported for important events by the airplanes and helicopters of the Royal Air Force.
Recently, the 32nd squadron of United Kingdom acquired its own Airbus A330 for 250 million dollars. The main purpose of the new airliner is to carry the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, on official government trips. Compared to the air management centres of other leaders of nuclear powers, the aircraft of the United Kingdom is generally an ordinary passenger airplane, with some minor alterations in the cabin planning and in-flight refuelling capabilities.
According to the press, the modifications of the airplane were conducted in accordance with conditions of the economy. The refitment of the British Prime Minister’s airplane cost a modest 20 million dollars. It is also noted that utilising the government Airbus resulted in saving up to almost 2 million dollars on plane charters.
The aircraft of Theresa May is modest in terms of the materials used and the cabin configuration. A small VIP area with two ottoman chairs is located in the front part of the Airbus A330. If desired, the sliding curtains can be closed to offer some privacy from the rest of the delegation. The main body of the aircraft cabin is occupied by 58 business class seats created for the accommodation of ministers and their deputies. The tail portion is occupied by 100 economy class seats, made for the journalists publicising the work of the Ministry Cabinet.
Interestingly, the former British Prime Minister David Cameron previously used public airline services on a number of occasions, seated among regular passengers.
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, has been surrounded by gold and gems from his childhood. That’s why it’s not surprising, that the prince’s private jet is nicknamed the “Flying Palace”.
The purchase of the “Flying Palace,” an Airbus A340-212, cost the prince 100 million dollars. An additional 120 million dollars has been spent on the reconstruction and modernisation of the airplane, all of which took place in the United States. The aircraft makeover not only added an incredibly luxurious cabin, decorated with precious metals, gems and valuable wood, but also significantly developed its flight features. Due to the installment of the additional fuel tanks, the ultimate non-stop flight range of the Sultan of Brunei’s personal air force increased to 15,000 kilometres, whereas the basic model is only 12,500 kilometres.
Due to the size of the prince’s A340-212, his travel is strictly limited by the capacity of the destination’s airstrip. Other than the Sultan’s airplane, there have only been three other aircraft produced with these modifications.
Other than the Airbus A340-212, the air fleet serving the monarch and his family consist of VIP modifications of a Boeing 747-430, a Boeing 767-270 and two Sikorsky S-70 helicopters.
Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. As such, he is the owner of a truly spectacular air fleet used by numerous members of his royal family.
On official trips of the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is accompanied by an entourage of at least 1,000 people including family members, members of the delegation and service staff. The weight of the carried cargo is measured in tonnes, and consists not only of various personal items for Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, but even includes limousines to be used by Emir in the destination country.
One aircraft, whether passenger or military, is not capable of such a large-scale transfer. This is why most of the Emir of Qatar’s trips, both official and unofficial, are completed by multiple airplanes. Qatar’s delegation once arrived to negotiations with the prime minister of Japan using 10 aircraft, and to Switzerland using 8 aircraft.
The individual transportation of the head of the government, his family members, and higher government officials is carried out by a separate VIP airline, Qatar Amiri Flight, set up in 1977 and property of Qatar’s government. Most of the airplanes in Qatar’s fleet have the colours of the official national carrier of Qatar, Qatar Airways, on their sides.
Qatari royal fleet
By the end of August 2016, the VIP fleet of the Qatar Amiri Flight airline consisted of 14 aircraft, the cost of each exceeding 100 million dollars. The Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani has an Airbus A319-100 (CJ), three Airbus A320-200s, two Airbus A330-200s, two Boeing 747-8 BBJs, an Airbus А310-300, an Airbus А340-200, an Airbus А340-300 and Airbus А340-500 at his disposal.
Other than the aircraft mentioned above, the Emir of Qatar occasionally uses a business jet Bombardier Global Express BD-700-1A10 and a military transport airplane, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, for personal use. Both of the aircraft are painted in the official livery of Qatar Airways.
According to information published on the official website of the President of Kazakhstan, in 2016 Nursultan Nazarbayev actively travelled around the world and made official visits to 15 countries (some of them more than once). Altogether, the president of Kazakhstan has spent 140 hours in the airplane and travelled for over 99,000 kilometres, two and a half times the equator’s circumference. The leader’s comfort and security during his voyages are provided by the staff of the state airline, Berkut.
Berkut’s statute law has clear guidelines on its main purpose, which is the “provision and implementation of the important flights of the Kazakhstan Republic.” The prompt governance of the enterprise is completed by the department of the Presidential Affairs of Kazakhstan Republic.
The airline fleet consists of over 10 airplanes and helicopters of various sizes, however, not all of them are intended for use by the head of state. For access to hard-to-reach areas and short distances, Nursultan Nazarbayev uses one of the specially organized Mil Mi-8 helicopters. To accomplish longer trips (up to 2,500 kilometres), state airline Berkut offers Bombardier СRJ-200 and Embraer-135 aircraft for presidential use.
Base aircraft model cost
The most important of the government aircraft are the Airbus A320-214 (CJ) Prestige, Airbus A321-211 (CJ) and Airbus A330-243 Prestige. The latter is the indisputable leader of the state airline of Kazakhstan. Nursultan Nazarbayev uses this airplane for the largest political and economic forums, such as G-20, as well as for the official visits to countries like the United States, China, Russia and Japan. According to different evaluations, the cost of the air force of Kazakhstan’s president, including the cost for the refitment, may exceed 250 million dollars.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is one of the smallest Arab states in the world. However, rich deposits of minerals made this island kingdom one of the wealthiest in the Persian Gulf basin. As such, the head of the royal family, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, is considered one of the world’s richest men.
Bahraini royal fleet
The official aircraft of the King of Bahrain is a state airline of Bahrain Royal Flight, founded in 1981. At the moment, its air fleet consists of six aircraft: a Boeing Business Jet BBJ2, two Boeing 747-400s, a Boeing 767-400ER, a Gulfstream G-IV and a Bell 430. Each one is a VIP configuration and is intended exclusively for the members of the royal family and high government officials.
The most recent purchases of the Bahrain Royal Flight airline were a Boeing 767-400ER and a Boeing Business Jet BBJ2. VIP interiors in both airplanes were completed by the corporation Lufthansa Technik. Due to ethical considerations, the company has released extremely limited information on the interiors. Judging by the fragmented information and photographs that have leaked, the passenger deck of the flagship of the King of Bahrain’s air fleet is divided into two autonomous zones with a separate VIP private living room and a negotiation area. In the airplane cabin, there are also individual VIP cabins and bedrooms, though the exact number is unknown. The government installed medical equipment on board, including an operating room with life support devices and advanced systems of water purification.
After the decoration of the interior of the Boeings was completed, they were sent from the centre in Hamburg to Dublin’s Lufthansa painting station where they were painted in the official colors of the Bahrain Royal Flight airline.
The long-haul Boeing 767-400 is different from the earlier versions of the 767 by its longer fuselage and increased wing span. The Boeing 767-400ER offers increased flight range exceeding 10,000 kilometres when fully loaded.
There is very little known about the second airplane passed from Lufthansa Technik to Bahrain Royal Flight, the Boeing Business Jet BBJ2. The only available information is that it has been designed by the best professionals of a famous London international design studio.
Businessman Alisher Usmanov is regularly ranked among the wealthiest people in Russia and the top 50 most influential people in the world. He owns a business jet Airbus A340-300, the cost of which exceeds 350 million dollars.
The aircraft is registered on the Isle of Man. The first letter of the jet’s name is given after the ‘Man’ - M-IABU. The rest of the letters can be translated as “I’m Alisher Bourkhanovich Usmanov.” Moreover, the A340-300 also has its own name, BOURKHAN, which is the name of Usmanov’s father.
The Airbus A340-300 is the biggest business jet in the Russian Federation. Based on size, it is only inferior to the giant А380. The catalogue value of Alisher Usmanov’s personal air fleet’s flagship is at least 238 million dollars. Counting the cost of the refitment and VIP cabin additions, the cost could easily exceed 250 million.
For a business jet, this high price tag is not excessive. Experts believe the A340-300 has a good balance between price and quality. Thanks to its four engines, the airliner is capable of all air routes and has a huge capacity, which is important for the protection and safety of the owner. There have been reported cases of four-engine airliners crossing the Atlantic Ocean with only three engines working. This, of course, is not possible for aircraft running on only two engines.
However, the A340-300 is not a good choice for the civil air fleet because of its high costs and high fuel consumption. Today’s economy requires that airline companies decrease costs wherever possible. This is why the fuel economy of the air fleet comes to the forefront and the A340-300 carriers prefer the economically-friendly, two-engine А330.
Another Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, has a number of airplanes in his personal fleet, including a Boeing 767-33AER. His first private jet was a Boeing Business Jet (VIP modification of Boeing 737-700) purchased during the time of Roman Abramovich’s work in Russia. After becoming the governor of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, the politician and businessman discovered first-hand the inaccessibility of that region. Regular flights were carried out from Moscow to Anadyr with a compulsory stop in Igarka for refuelling, but a direct flight to this location had a number of indisputable advantages.
The next of Roman Abramovich’s aircraft purchases was a Boeing 767-33AER. It was originally ordered by Hawaiian Airlines, but they cancelled the order in 2004. It was then purchased by the Russian businessman. After the paperwork was finalized, the aircraft was sent for refitment and received registration in Aruba. Currently, it is based in London Stansted airport—part of Harrods Aviation. The catalogue value of the 767-33AER exceeds 180 million dollars. When considering the cost of all refitment and equipment of the VIP cabin, the total cost could easily reach 300 million dollars.
Roman Abramovich’s Boeing 767-33AER has a bright, easily recognisable colouring with white, grey and brown lines. The slanting black stripes near the end windows of the cockpit resemble a mask. These unique exterior markings gave the plane notoriety and the nickname “Bandit.”
The inside of the aircraft has been drastically modified from the standard version. The airliner cabin is equipped with a banquet hall with accommodations for 30 people, a kitchen, an office and a bedroom with a double bed. Precious metals and fine woods make up the lavish décor of the airplane’s interior. In addition, the aircraft is equipped with the newest communication and security systems including Abramovich’s own anti-ballistic defence system, the cost of which exceeds two million dollars. Based on the inner furnishings and functionality of the Russian businessman’s aircraft, it rivals the airplanes of many world leaders.
North Korea is the most secretive country in the world, however some details of Kim Jong-un’s private plane are available. The Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea travels in a modified Cold War-era Ilyushin IL-62 named “Chammae-1” after a hawk species native to North Korea. The IL-62 was the largest jet airliner in the world when it first flew in 1963, was produced until 1995. Now, due to the aircraft’s age and high operating costs, no more than 14 are in government or commercial operation.
Interior of Kim Jong-un’s Ilyushin IL-62
While a fully-equipped Ilyushin IL-62 can accommodate 200 passengers, Kim Jong-un’s aircraft is a VIP configuration similar in scale to the United States’ Air Force One. Photos released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency show Kim Jong-un inside his lavishly-decorated aircraft. The photos show a plush interior, decorated with oversized white leather chairs, shiny rosewood tables and a crystal ashtray.
Cost of the Chammae-1
The cost of the original plane and its subsequent modifications are unknown. A photo that can be dated between 2012 and 2014 shows Kim Jong-un inside the IL-62 when it was outfitted with outdated 1980s-style decor and since then, the interior of the plane appears to have undergone significant renovations. Official photos of Kim Jong-un inside the aircraft were released by the Korean Central News Agency in February 2015.
The Supreme Leader’s love of flying
Kim Jong-un’s father, former North Korea leader Kim Jong-il, was afraid of flying and traveled to China and Russia by private armored train. Kim Jong-un, on the other hand, is reported to have a deep admiration for aviation. Since he came into power, he has built small runways long enough to land light aircraft near each of his family compounds. The country’s state television channel has shown videos – which may be doctored – of Kim piloting planes, including a small single-engined plane similar to a Cessna that was manufactured in North Korea.
The President of South Korea’s flagship aircraft is a Boeing 747-400, on lease from Korean Air. The president’s impressive fleet also includes one Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, two military CASA CN-235s and a Boeing 737-300, which he uses for domestic travel. The entire fleet is painted white, with a red and blue line along the side and a blue and red design on the tail.
Inside Moon Jae-in’s Boeing 747-400
There are limited details available on the interior of the Jae-in’s Boeing 747-400. The base cost of a Boeing 747-400 is approximately 240 million dollars, however the cost of the lease agreement with Korean Air has not been reported.
Possible upgrade to a Boeing 747-800
There is speculation that South Korea plans to replace President Moon Jae-in’s 747-400 with a 747-800 for international travel. This four-engine aircraft is one of Boeing’s newest models, with the capacity to carry between 210 and 330 passengers. The 747-800 is heralded as one of the most fuel-efficient aircraft on the market and is made primarily with composite materials. The four-engine jet would cost approximately $350 million if the purchase goes through.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his entourage travel in a Dassault Falcon 900. Details on the presidential plane are scarce, but the aircraft likely has a highly advanced security system. The Falcon 900 is a large-cabin trijet lauded for its performance, efficiency and comfort. The aircraft cruises at about 555 mph, while burning 30-40% less fuel than other jets in its category. A range of over 5,000 miles allows for flights from Damascus to destinations as far away as Beijing.
Interior of President Assad’s Falcon 900
No details are available on the interior of Bashar al-Assad’s presidential plane. The cabin of a Falcon 900 is typically configured into three distinct areas, with a separate lounge, an office and a master bedroom with queen-sized bed and spacious shower.
The cost of Bashar al-Assad’s presidential plane
The cost of the plane and its subsequent security modifications are unknown, however in 2015 the catalogue cost of a Dassault Falcon 900LX was $43.3 million.
In 2014, the Israeli government approved a plan to purchase a private jet for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The budget for the aircraft, which will also be used by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, is $70 million. The plane will feature advanced defense technologies and specialized communications systems, with a long range allowing nonstop flights from Israel to North America.
Details on the Israeli presidential plane
Israel’s Channel 2 reports that the aircraft is a Boeing 767 that is currently being outfitted by Israel Aerospace Industries. The photos broadcast by the network were blurred to comply with military censorship. The Boeing 767 is a wide-body twin-engine jet airliner with the capacity to accommodate up to 375 passengers, depending on its configuration.
Netanyahu’s current aircraft
Until the arrival of the new Israeli presidential plane, the Prime Minister will continue chartering aircraft. Each time he makes a trip, all three of Israel’s airlines compete to provide a charter – however, as El Al is the only airline with the capacity to accommodate long-range flights, it has a monopoly on most of the Prime Minister’s international travel. Before 2003, the highest government officials traveled in an Air Force 707, which also served as a refueling plane and was rumored to be uncomfortable. In 1997, a window cracked while Netanyahu was on board, so the pilot had to fly at a low altitude.
Controversy surrounding the plane
While the plan to provide the Israeli Prime Minister with a new private jet is well underway, many Israelis consider it to be an extravagant expense. In 2013, Netanyahu came under fire from the media for spending $127,000 to outfit an El Al plane with a double bed for a five-hour flight to London when the aircraft already had a business or first class cabin with reclining seats. However, the government considers the aircraft to fill a major national security need.
Famous for his frugality, it’s no surprise that Pope Francis doesn’t own a private jet. Instead, the Vatican chooses private jet charter, hiring an Airbus A330-200 from Alitalia for the Pope’s intercontinental travels. When the Pope is onboard, the aircraft is called the “Raffaello Sanzio”, named after the Renaissance painter who painted the Popes of his time, and is marked with the Papal shield.
Inside the Raffaello Sanzio
The Airbus A330 is a twin-aisle wide body plane considered to be among the most reliable aircraft in the sky. The cabin is quite large, with the capacity to carry 247 passengers. Unlike many planes in a presidential aircraft fleet, the Airbus A330-200 is not equipped with an office, conference room or private bedroom. Instead, the Raffaello Sanzio is the same plane Alitalia uses for commercial flights, with 20 business class seats and 263 in coach. The Pope typically sits in the first row of business class, with the entire row to himself.
The Pope’s entourage
The only time the Pope grants interviews to reporters is while he’s in-flight. As such, the plane’s coach cabin is typically filled with journalists from international newspapers, magazines and television networks. Alitalia offers a discounted charter rate to the Pope and the journalists pay their own fare. Befitting of his nickname, “The People’s Pope”, Pope Francis typically spends time on board bantering with the journalists and giving blessings in the coach cabin.
Since 2014, Abdel-Fattah Khalil el-Sisi, the 6th President of Egypt, has flown on one of the most expensive aircraft in the country’s fleet: the Airbus A340-200. That said, Egyptian officials have flown in the A340-200 since long before el-Sisi came into power: it’s been in near-continuous use since 1995.
Airbus A340-200 specifications
The A340-200 is the only model of the A340 series with a fuselage length smaller than its wingspan. The aircraft measures 16.8 m in height, the length from nose to tail is 59.4 m, and the wingspan from end to end totals 60.3 m. The plane is capable of reaching speeds up to 1054 km/h, and can cover a distance of 12,400 km on a single tank.
President el-Sisi’s A340-200 has four CFM56-5C CFM International engines, each worth about $10,000,000, which puts the cost of only the engines at around $40,000,000.
Airbus A340-200 interior
According to the manufacturer, the A340-200 cabin – among the most comfortable and noise-isolated in the world – was designed specifically for the Egyptian president, and is equipped with LCD screens, an onboard entertainment center and fewer windows than the commercial airliner model. The interior of presidential А340-200 was created by renowned French designer Jacques Pierrejean, which puts it in a league of its own in terms of comfort and interior design.
Airbus A340-200 estimated price
The price of an ordinary Airbus A340-200 aircraft ranges from $70 to $90 million. However, the custom model, created specifically for the president, costs about $166 million due to its improved performance and luxurious interior.
Petro Poroshenko’s fleet is maintained and serviced by state airline, Ukraine International Airlines. The president’s fleet includes two Ukrainian-made Antonov aircraft – an AN-74 and AN-148 – as well as an $86,000,000 French Airbus A319CJ and a Mil Mi-8 helicopter.
While Petro Poroshenko’s fleet is by no means conservative, the current president takes a more modest approach to flying than his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych, who leased two additional planes during his term which added around $86,700 to the annual state budget of Ukraine.
Characteristics of the Airbus A319CJ, Antonov AN-74 and AN-148, and Mil Mi-8
Poroshenko’s Airbus A-319-115-XCJ is a similar model to Brazilian president Michel Temer’s A319, Santos-Dumont. This is a business-class aircraft with an increased range, capable of travelling as far as 11,100 km on a single tank. The A-319 features a wingspan and length of 35.8 and 33.84 m respectively, and a height of 11.76 m. The cruising speed is approximately 870 km/h, while its and maximum speed approaches 1005 km/h.
The Antonov AN-74TK-300 VIP is a mere 10.5m in length, with a maximum speed of 740 km/h, and travels at an altitude of 10,100 m. It is able to cover a distance of 5,050 km on a single tank and accommodates up to 52 passengers on board.
The Antonov AN-148 is a reactive regional aircraft with two engines, flies at a maximum speed of 870 km/h, and a maximum altitude of 12,200 m.
The Mil Mi-8 is on among the most popular helicopters in the history of aviation. The length reaches 18.17 m, and it’s capable of travelling at speeds of up to 250 km/h.
Interior of the Airbus A319CJ
The A319CJ includes a meeting room, a section dedicated to guests and luggage, an on-board kitchen, an office and a recreation area. It’s also not lacking in luxury: the aircraft includes items such as a gilded cock and a pink marble sink.
Estimated cost of the Ukrainian fleet
The Ukrainian state’s Airbus A319CJ was purchased for $86,000,000. The estimated cost of a standard-model Antonov AN-74 is cheaper —around $10,000,000 – and the exact cost of the AN-148 is unknown. However, Aeroflot refused to purchase the same aircraft for $ 30,000,000 in 2012, and the aircraft insurance costs the Ukrainian budget around $7,400,00 annually, which gives some indication of its price. The price of the Mil Mi-8 fluctuates between $14-18 million. In total, the approximate cost of the presidential aviation fleet is in the region of $142,000,000.
The Japanese Imperial family’s fleet includes two Boeing 747 aircraft, used by the Emperor, Empress, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and other high-ranking officials for international travel. Additionally, these aircraft are used to evacuate Japanese citizens from abroad in case of emergency.
The aircraft order from Japan coincided with the construction of a new model of Boeing 747-400, and accordingly their fleet includes more modern aircraft than that of the USA, even though they have been in use since approximately the same time. In 2019, the Japanese government plans to bring their fleet up to date with the purchase of a Boeing 777-300ER.
All crew members undergo special training to respond quickly in case of emergency, and both aircraft usually fly together for safety reasons.
Boeing 747 Characteristics
The Boeing 747-400 is the largest, most technologically advanced, and best-selling model of the 747 series. Due to its increased lift capacity, it’s also two to three times more expensive than similar models.
The Japanese fleet features two identical aircraft, each with a capacity of about 150 passengers and 17-19 crew members. Both aircraft are equipped with the same General Electric turbojet engines as the American Air Force one.
The 747-400’s size is impressive: its wing-tip clearance stands at 64.44 m, and it has a length of 70.66 m and a height of 19.41 m. The Boeing 747-400 is capable of a top speed of up to 933 km/h.
Boeing 747 Interior design
The Japanese presidential Boeing 747 features many interior design improvements over the standard cabin. Special attention has been paid to communication equipment, which is necessary for government officials to carry out their duties and solve problems directly on board. The aircraft also has an office for Imperial family representatives, an administrative office, a media area, a meeting room, and sections for VIP guests and other passengers.
Boeing 747 approximate price
The price of a standard Boeing 747 doesn’t typically exceed $300,000,000, but the Imperial model Boeing 747 aircraft for the government of Japan are more expensive. The two aircraft cost the state around $600,000,000.
The Belarusian president’s planes are maintained by the state airline of Belarus, Belavia. The Belarus state fleet consists of three aircraft: President Alexander Lukashenko’s primary (and most expensive) aircraft is a Boeing 767-300ER, purchased from Turkmenistan. However, the presidential fleet of Belarus also includes a Boeing 737-800 business jet and a Tuploev TU-154M, both of which have been at the president’s disposal for over 15 years. Because of the TU-154M and the 737’s relatively short range, the 767-300ER was added to the fleet for making long-distance trips.
Boeing 767, Boeing 737 and Tupolev TU-154 description
The Boeing 767-300ER is a long-haul, wide-body airliner. The presidential aircraft is equipped with governmental communication systems, parachutes and an anti-missile defense system. The aircraft can cover distances of up to 10 550 km on a single tank – twice the range of the Boeing 737. The 767-300ER has a height of 15.85 m, a wing-tip clearance of 47.57 m, a length of approximately 54.94 m and a maximum speed of 980 km/h. Instead of Boeing’s traditional blue, the aircraft is painted in red and green to match the colors of the Belarusian national flag.
At 39.5m in length and with a wing-tip clearance of 38.5m, the Boeing 737-800BBJ is among the largest aircraft in the 737 series. The plane can cover a distance of over 5,000 km and reaches a maximum speed of 962 km/h.
The Tupolev TU-154M is a medium-haul passenger aircraft, built by the Russian aviation design bureau. The TU-154 was the most popular passenger jet in the Soviet Union, with 998 models released since the mid-1960s. The maximum distance it can travel without refueling is 6,500 km, and it can reach speeds of up to 935 km/h, with a cruising speed of 850 km/h. The aircraft has a length of 47.9 m, while its wing-tip clearance and height are 37.55 m and 11.4 m respectively.
Boeing 767, Boeing 737 and Tupolev TU-154 Price
Alexander Lukashenko stated in an interview to the press that a new Boeing 767 is worth between $250 and $300 million. However, the Belarusian government purchased its Boeing 767 from Turkmenistan for less than $100,000,000.
The current price of a Boeing 737 is estimated at approximately $100,000,000, and a TU-154M sold for around $10,000,000 when it was purchased by the state in 1995. This brings the total cost of the Belarusian government fleet to somewhere around $210 000 000.
The Brazilian Air Force is responsible for maintaining the fleet of Michel Temer and other government officials. Temer’s presidential aircraft is an Airbus A319CJ – a customized and improved version of the Airbus A319 produced in 2005. The aircraft received the designation VC-1A, number 2101, and was named “Santos-Dumont” in honor of the iconic Brazilian inventor and aviation pioneer.
For short flights, the president also uses a narrow-body passenger aircraft – a modified Embraer 190 known as the VC-2.
Airbus A319CJ specifications
The Airbus A319CJ boasts a length of 33.84 meters (approximately the size of a 12-storey building), a height of 11.76 meters and a wingspan of 35.8 meters. The Airbus A319CJ flies at a speed of 870 km/h, accelerates to a maximum of 1005 km/h and is capable of reaching a maximum altitude of up to 12,500 meters. The aircraft is equipped with two dual-flow IAE V2500 turbojet engines, which help reduce fuel consumption and allow for longer flights. The A319CJ is capable of travelling a distance of 11,100 km without refueling, which is roughly equal to the distance from Tokyo to New York.
Santos-Dumont is designed to be the president’s home-away-from-home during frequent flights: the cabin is divided into separate apartments comprising a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. These apartments are designed for different passengers, and some include additional rooms such as the president's apartments, which features a private office, conference room and security center.Apartments for the immediate entourage include a room with luxurious armchairs for advisers and senior staff, and apartments for other guests are kitted out to accommodate media staff and other passengers.
But the Santos-Dumont isn’t only about luxury and comfort: the aircraft also features an intensive care unit and satellite communication system, which can be used to transfer confidential information. In the event of a national conflict or emergency, the President can discharge all his duties right on board.
Airbus A319CJ approximate price
The presidential airplane was purchased in 2005 for $56.7 million, including spare parts, ground support equipment, and operation and maintenance training. The purchase agreement was signed on February 9, 2004, and the aircraft was put into operation in 2005. The VC-1A has been in use by high-ranking representatives of Brazil for over 13 years.
Today, a similar model is estimated to sell for around $80,000,000.
The President of Angola, João Lourenço, flies in an Embraer ERJ-135 BJ Legacy as his primary aircraft. Prior to this, the country's top officials used an Embraer EMB-120, but the plane crashed during a regional flight across Angola in 2011. The Angolan government also has use of two De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400s, which were purchased in 2011.
The Embraer ERJ-135BJ Legacy is a business-class aircraft powered by two Rolls-Royce AE3007 turbofans. The cabin includes several adjustments to make it more comfortable for cabin and crew. The ERJ-135 is a shortened model of the ERJ-145, and as such has a wingspan of 21.17 m, a length of 26.33 m and stands 6.76 m tall. It accelerates to a top speed of 833 km/h and is capable of traveling 6.019 km without refueling.
The De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400 is the most modern and longest model of the Dash 8 series, with improved engines, aeronautical radio engineering technology and a modified wing design. Its cruising speed at maximum load is 648 km/h and its maximum flight range is 2,400 km. The DHC-8-400 has a length of 32.84 m, a wingspan of 28.42 m and stands at 8.38 m tall.
Estimated cost of the Angolan presidential fleet
The Embraer ERJ-135 is priced at around $16.5 million. However, the business configuration used by the president costs significantly more – possibly as much as $26 million. The De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400s cost about $27 million each, which brings the total cost of the Angolan presidential fleet to around $80 million – among the most expensive among African countries.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos uses two primary aircraft: a business version of the Boeing 737 (The 737-700 BBJ) for long-distance flights, which was purchased for $40 million in 2005; and a Beechcraft King Air 350i for short-range flights that can be completed in under six hours, which cost the government $5 million. Colombian First Lady Maria Clemencia Rodriguez has two other aircraft at her disposal: the Fokker F28-1000, acquired in 1971, and the Embraer EMB-135BJ Legacy 600, purchased in 2012.
Boeing 737-700 BBJ: The president’s primary aircraft is used mainly for international travel and accepted at most national airports. It’s capable of flying anywhere in the Americas with ease and carries out intercontinental flights (for example, Bogota to Madrid) without needing to stop to refuel. The aircraft is 33.57 m long, with a wingspan of 34.30 m and a height of 12.5 m. Its maximum speed is 940 km/h and it has a maximum flight time of 11 hours – and with a range of over 10,000 km, it’s the ideal vehicle for intercontinental travel.
The cabin of the Boeing 737 holds up to 57 passengers. Its customized interior features a meeting room for eight people and a satellite network for data transfer, as well as a fax machine, printer, telephones and much more, all of which may be required by the president and his guests during flights. The aircraft also has a separate presidential suite with restroom, bed and desk. The main part of the plane is equipped similarly to most commercial aircraft and accommodates up to 46 people. Luggage racks and bathrooms are available for all passengers, and the plane also has a crew accommodation area in case of long flights.
Beechcraft King Air 350i: This American general purpose turboprop is ideal for shorter flights, as it travels a maximum of 3,345 km and accelerates to a top speed of 578 km/h. A much smaller jet than the Boeing 737-700 BBJ, the 350i accommodates a maximum of 11 passengers. It is 14.22 m in length, 4.37 m tall and boasts a wingspan of 17.65 m.
Both the Boeing 737-700 BBJ and Beechcraft King Air 350i are classified as VIP aircraft and cost the Colombian government a combined $45 million. Today, B737 business jets cost around $80 million and the King Air 350i series ranges from around $6 to $10 million. The first lady’s Fokker F28-1000 is priced at approximately $4 million and her Embraer EMB-135BJ Legacy 600 cost somewhere in the region of $8 million, which brings the total cost of the Colombian presidential fleet to $57 million.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni uses a personal Gulfstream G550, which the Ugandan government purchased in 2009, as well as a Mil Mi-171 helicopter for domestic flights which was bought in 2016.
While the president’s Gulfstream G550 isn’t the most extravagant choice of presidential aircraft, its purchase was highly controversial: in the same year, the British government provided around $100 million in funds to support Uganda’s economy and many suspect part of this went towards the president’s private jet.
The Gulfstream G550 is a business-class aircraft manufactured by Gulfstream Aerospace. This highly economical plane is equipped with two Rolls Royce engines and capable of making 14-hour non-stop flights – for example, from Shanghai to Los Angeles or New York to Dubai. It has a length of 29.4 m, a wingspan of 28.5 m, cruises at a speed of 950 km/h and can accelerate to a maximum of 1,092 km/h.
The Mil Mi-171 is a Russian helicopter with a VIP cabin, which the Ugandan president uses for regional flights. Its rotor diameter is 21.29 m and it has a cabin length of 5.34 m. The Mi-171’s cruising speed is 230 km/h and it flies at a maximum altitude of 6,000 m. It’s also equipped with a ground proximity warning system for safety.
Museveni’s G550 features a comfortable cabin with space for up to 19 passengers, as well as eight beds. The cabin is also fully soundproofed and equipped with everything necessary for work and communication: wireless internet, satellite, fax and printer, all of which are standard for the G550.
The Mil Mi-171 is a VIP model, which features a luxurious cabin with leather upholstery and a “precious wood” finish. The cabin can accommodate 12 passengers and features improved insulation from noise and vibration, a modern multimedia system with a widescreen display and several audio speakers. The Mi-171 cabin is air-conditioned and includes a cloakroom, snack bar, bathroom and luggage compartments to ensure a comfortable flight.
Estimated cost of the Ugandan presidential fleet
The Ugandan government bought the Gulfstream G550 for $48.6 million and $3.77 million was allocated for purchasing the Mi-171 VIP helicopter. This brings the total cost of Yovori Kaguta Museveni’s relatively small fleet to somewhere in the region of $52 million.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta flies a Fokker 70ER; a narrow-body passenger airliner with two engines. Developed by Dutch company Fokker, the aircraft is nicknamed Harambee One, which means "working together for the common goal" in Swahili.
For shorter flights, the president uses a twin-engine turboprop, the De Havilland Canada DHC-8-100.
Kenyatta’s Fokker 70ER is 30.91 m in length, 8.51 m tall, reaches a cruising speed of 800 km/h and boasts a wingspan of 28.08 m. A standard Fokker 70 can only fly without refueling for up to 3,334 km, which makes it impossible to use for long-distance flights. However, the Kenyan president’s jet has been modified with extra fuel tanks (at the expense of some cabin space) in order to make intercontinental flights possible.
The De Havilland Canada DHC-8-100 is a modest aircraft by presidential standards. Its cruising speed is only 440 km/h and its maximum range without refueling is 1,520 km. The aircraft is also smaller than most presidential jets: the wingspan is 25.91 m and its length and height are 22.25 m and 7.49 m respectively. Today, Bombardier produces an upgraded model of the DHC-8-100 called the Dash 8.
While the De Havilland Canada DHC-8-100 features a standard interior, the cabin of the Fokker 70ER has been extensively modified made to accommodate the additional fuel tanks required for its superior flight range. For this reason, the capacity of the Kenyan Fokker 70ER is 26 passengers rather than 80.
Estimated cost of the Kenyan presidential fleet
Official data on the prices of the Kenyan presidential aircraft hasn’t been published; however, it’s been widely reported that the presidential Fokker 70ER cost around $20 million. The approximate cost of a De Havilland Canada DHC-8-100 is $13 million, although this model has been discontinued so a current price is difficult to estimate. This brings the total value of the fleet to around $33 million.
The ruler of Bangladesh, Abdul Hamid, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed fly in one the world’s most expensive presidential aircraft: a Boeing 777-300ER. The aircraft is designed to undertake long intercontinental flights, is equipped with powerful engines and can accommodate a large number of passengers. In addition to the president, the 777-300ER is used by prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and maintained by Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
The Boeing 777-300ER is the largest twin-engine passenger aircraft in the world. It’s been used commercially since 2004 and production continues to this day. The modified 777-300ER is equipped with two GE90-115BLs, the world’s largest and most powerful high-speed turbofan engine. The wingspan of the Boeing 777-300ER is 64.8 m, the length is 73.9 m and the height is 18.5 m. Without refueling, the aircraft can cover distances of 13,650 km, while its maximum speed is 925 km/h.
Estimated cost of the Boeing 777-300ER
A Boeing 777-300ER sells for around $315 million today, but at the time it was purchased, it’s likely that the Bangladeshi government paid somewhere in the region of $260 million.
The Embraer ERJ-135LR is powered by two Rolls-Royce AE3007A engines. It has a length of 26.33m, a height of 6.76m and a wingspan of 20.4m. The Aircraft is typically used for VIP transport in and out of Belgium to neighbouring European Countries as it only has a flight range of 3,243km at a speed of 963.14km/h without refueling. Therefore it is not a practical nor an efficient aircraft for uninterrupted trans-continental travel. However, since the Belgian presidency uses this aircraft for mainly domestic flights within the EU, it serves its purpose well.
While there are no official accounts from the Belgian government regarding the cost of its Embraer ERJ 135, it is widely reported that at the time of its purchase, ERJ-135s were sold for $15-20 million.
The Swiss Federal Council has a larger fleet than most, with three VIP jets: a Dassault Falcon 900EX, a Cessna 560XL and a Beechcraft 1900D. The three craft have significantly different specifications and as such are used for different purposes by the Swiss government.
The Dassault Falcon 900EX is the long range version of the Falcon 900, with three TFE731-60 engines that can fly a distance of 8,100km without refueling at a maximum speed of 1,074km/h. The wingspan of the 900EX is 19.3m, the length is 20.2m and the height is 7.72m.
The Cessna 560XL is 16m in length, 5.23m in height and has a wingspan of 17.7m. The 560XL has a flight range of 3,889km without refueling at a maximum speed of 817km/h.
The Beechcraft 1900D is the smallest of the jets that make up the Swissair fleet and only has a flight range of 1,700km without refueling while at a speed of 464km/h, which means this aircraft is only used for short haul flights. The Beechcraft 1900D is 17.6m in length, 4.5m in height and has a wingspan of 16.6m.
The cost of each aircraft in the Swiss fleet varies significantly, as each is in a different class and used for different purposes. The Falcon 900EX costs upwards of $45 million excluding additional features and modifications, while the Cessna 560XL can cost anywhere from $1,795,000 to $3,495,000. A new Beechcraft 1900D sells for around $5 million today, which brings the estimated value of the Swiss fleet to around $55 million.
The Airbus A310 is powered by two GE CF6-80C2A2 engines and can travel a distance of 8,050km at 850km/h without refueling. The A310 is 46.66m in length and has a wingspan of 43.9m and a height of 15.8m. The Royal Spanish Air Force has customized its A310s to include more cabin space than the original model, as well as modernized security technologies.
The Dassault Falcon 900 is much smaller than the A310 and is thus only used for VIP transport. It is 20.2m in length, 15.8m in height and has a wingspan of 21.38m. Furthermore, the Falcon 900 has a flight range of 8,000km whilst traveling at a maximum speed of 685km/h.
No official data or documents have been released stating how much the Spanish government paid for the Airbus A310; however, today the aircraft has an estimated value of $90 million. Taking the various modifications and luxury upgrades into account, it’s likely the A310s cost in excess of $100 million each. Falcon 900s, on the other hand, sell for around $44.8 million, which brings the total cost of these five support aircraft to over $220 million and the total value of the Spanish fleet to over $420 million.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern enjoys her own private Boeing 757-200, a multifunctional aircraft that is regularly used for VIP transport as well as ministerial and trade missions around the world. The aircraft also provides strategic airlift capabilities needed to carry personnel and equipment globally in support of operations and deployments.
The Boeing 757-200 is a modified, more efficient and larger version of the Boeing 727 aircraft. It boasts two Rolls Royce RB211535E4 Turbofan engines, unlike the 727’s three engines, and can carry up to 295 passengers. The length of the aircraft is 47.32m, the wingspan is 38.5m (geometric) and the height is 13.56m. Without refueling, the aircraft can travel a distance of 7,400km, while its cruise speed is typically 850km/h.
Estimated Cost of Boeing 757-200
A Boeing 757-200 is estimated to have cost $65 million in 2002, just one year before the New Zealand Royal Air Force commenced its $221 million acquisition and modification project in May 2003 and replaced its ageing 727 with the 757-200.
The Fokker 70 is an aircraft that was used to transport VIP passengers, including members of the Dutch Royal family, the Prime Minister and other government officials, in and out of the Netherlands. As of 2017 its services were retired and the aircraft was sold on to Alliance Airlines for $4.2 million. Along with the Fokkers F28, the Fokker 70 is in the process of being replaced by a Boeing 737 BBJ, which is due to be delivered and in service by 2019. According to reports, the estimated cost of the 737 BBJ is in the region of $98.4 million.
The Dutch Royal Air Force’s retired Fokker 70 is powered by two very reliable Rolls-Royce Tay 620 engines and is 30.9m in length, 8.51m in height and has a wingspan of 28.8m. The Fokker 70 is able to fly a distance of 1,360km at a maximum speed of 856km/h and carries a maximum of 24 passengers.
At present, a Fokker 70 sells for around $20 million, but it’s likely that the Dutch government paid a lower price when it was built in 1995. The replacement Boeing 737 BBJ, on the other hand, comes with a more expensive price tag of just under $100 million. Interestingly, one of the pilots for the new aircraft is rumored to be none other than King Willem-Alexander, so this is truly a plane fit for a king.
Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has custom-designed the most expensive aircraft in the world today at $600 million. Nieto’s 787-8 Dreamliner can reach speeds upwards of 1,000 miles per hour and could even fly from the west coast of North America all the way to the east coast of Asia.
The incredible Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is 57m in length, 17m in height and has a wingspan of 60.17m. This ultra-long-range aircraft can travel a distance of almost 14,000km without refueling at a speed of 10,049.58km/h.
Today a 787-8 Boeing Dreamliner sells for roughly $239 million; however, it’s widely speculated that Enrique Peña Nieto bought his Dreamliner for a lot more. When he announced the purchase of the aircraft in 2014, there was outcry over the Mexican president buying the world’s most expensive plane when his country was in the midst of a severe economic crisis. Many reported that the aircraft cost between $400 and $600 million. It’s difficult to estimate the exact purchase price, but it’s certainly one of the most lavish and expensive aircraft on our list.
The magnificent Air India Boeing 747-400 is 70.65m in length, 19.6m in height and has a wingspan of 64.43m. It can travel a distance of 13,450km without refueling whilst at a speed of 1048.58km/h.
It is difficult to know how much the Indian Air force fleet would purchased the Boeing 747-400 for, as there isn’t any official documentation available; however, many reports allude to the fact that back in 1970 the first Air Boeing 747s were selling for $20 million and today sell for between $234 and $266 million. Some outlets have broken the statistics down and reported that it is likely that the Indian government may have purchased its Boeing 747-400 for around $146 million.
The Gulfstream V is a long range business jet that provides extreme comfort and luxury to its VIP passengers. It is powered by two Rolls Royce BR700-710A1-10 turbofan engines and can travel a distance of up to 12,501km whilst at a maximum speed of 1049.58km/h without refueling. Moreover, the GV has a length of 29.39m, a height of 7.87m and a wingspan of 28.5m, all of which come together to create an efficient layout and a very reliable aircraft.
The Gulfstream V sold for $38 million in 1998, $48.25 million in 2012 and $65.1 million in 2017. There is, however, no evidence, reports or documentation with findings or speculations on the amount the aircraft was worth in 2003 or how much the Hellenic Air Force might have bought it for.
The Royal Canadian Air Force operates a fleet of five Airbus A310s, initially purchased in 1987 as civilian aircraft by Canadian Airlines. These aircraft were then subsequently bought by the Canadian Forces in 1989 and converted for military use, with one modified for VIP transportation (including flying the Queen and Prime Minister to and from Canada), which cost an extra $56 million in lavish upgrades.
The CC-150 Polaris is a multi-purpose, twin-engine, long-range jet aircraft. It can be used for passenger, freight or medical transport and air-to-air refueling. The Polaris can reach a speed of up to 1029km/h carrying a load of up to 32,000kg. It can carry up to 194 passengers, depending on the particular aircraft tail number and configuration.
Estimated cost of the Fleet
It is difficult to know exactly how much the Canadian Royal Air Force paid for its five Airbus 310-300s (CC-150 Polaris), but in 2016 it was reported that the fleet may be in line for replacement. Replacing this fleet would cost the Canadian government between $500 million and $1.5 billion US dollars, with new planes delivered to the Air force in 2026.
Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, the Queen and the Royal Australian Air Force’s $100 million Boeing 737 BBJ
The Royal Australian Air Force has a fleet of two 737 Boeing Business jets, which were first purchased and introduced to the force in 2002. They are also part of the Special Aircraft fleet and thus provide comfortable and luxurious transportation for governmental officials including the Queen.
The BBJ has a crew of up to six and is capable of carrying up to 30 passengers. It has a range of 11,390km, which enables it to complete long haul flights including flying directly from Canberra to Hong Kong or Tokyo.The BBJ combines the fuselage of the Boeing 737-700 commercial airliner with a strengthened rear section. It has the centre-section, wing and landing gear of a 737-800. Winglets are standard, affording a 5-7% reduction in cruise drag and a 4-5% increase in range.
Today a Boeing 737 BBJ sells for around $85-105 million depending on the interiors, while in 2015 it was valued at approximately $75 million. There isn’t much information available, however, regarding how much the Australian Air Force paid for its fleet of two BBJs back in 2002.
VIP air transportation is in high demand. The services of luxurious business jets and customized aircraft are used not only by the heads of states and government officials, but by high-powered business tycoons. Both can own personal air fleets with size and quality parallel to the richest monarchies of the Persian Gulf.
Financial constraints can keep even the most successful businessmen from owning an air fleet as big as, for example, Vladimir Putin’s air fleet. The special squad is the record holder for having the largest number of airplanes and helicopters totalling 68 and 64 respectively. Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani holds the record for the largest number of airplanes used for a government visit (up to 10), and is the leader of the highest costing air fleet, exceeding 1.5 billion dollars. During official trips, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani heads the largest air delegation of often 1,000 people, including family members, government representatives and the aircraft crew.
The President of the United States has the oldest personal aircraft. Each of his VC-25A have been in use for more than 25 years. The Prime Minister of Japan, The King of the Saudi Arabia and the Sultan of Brunei all currently have more modern aircraft than Donald Trump.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Airbus A330 has the biggest passenger capacity (around 160 people) among the leaders discussed in this analysis. The biggest business jet in the Russian Federation, Airbus A340-300 is owned by the businessman, Alisher Usmanov. According to its size, the aircraft is inferior only to the giant A380.
The achievement for the most modesty among the government leaders discussed in this analysis goes to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, who does not own a personal aircraft. Instead, the leader of the People’s Republic of China uses two Boeing 747-400s which belong to the Air China airline. They are altered before his trip and are returned to regular passenger flights after Xi Jinping returns to China.
From the 1.5 billion dollar fleet of the Qatari Royal Family to the more modest aircraft choices of the General Secretary of China’s Communist party, Xi Jinping, we’ve examined some of the greatest leaders of our time and their aircraft of choice. The results show that while not all leaders have an ostentatious taste in aircraft, the majority prioritize comfort and luxury.
While the exact age of Kim Jong-un’s presidential plane is unknown, it may outdo the United States as the oldest aircraft currently in use by a world leader. The Russian-made Ilyushin IL-62 was in production from 1963 to 1995. While the interior of the North Korean leader’s private jet recently underwent a plush renovation, older photos from inside the aircraft show more dated decor.
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