The Strange Saga Of Mexico’s Presidential Plane

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Mexico’s Presidential 787 is described as an albatross.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with a mock-up lottery ticket with the plane as the prize.

Some days you just can’t get rid of a plane.

In a new wrinkle of a strange and ongoing saga, Mexico says it is trying to sell its luxurious presidential jet to Canada, but will raffle the plane off if we don’t want it, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday.

The offer marks the latest chapter in a desperate effort to unload the large and lavish Boeing 787 Dreamliner that López Obrador views as wasteful.

He said Tuesday that the plane bought for more than US$200 million by his predecessor would be a step up for Canada’s prime minister.

“We learned that Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s airplane had problems, and we offered it to them, but there hasn’t been an agreement yet,” López Obrador said. “The truth is that it is bigger than the Canadian prime minister’s, and better.”

Officials have said Mexico would accept US$130 million for the plane.

If a buyer can’t be found, López Obrador suggested a raffle. He even presented a prototype of the lottery-style ticket that would be issued if the idea goes ahead. He said he hoped business owners would buy huge blocks of the 500-peso (US$25) tickets. The government hopes to sell six million tickets and use the proceeds to buy medical equipment.

But as Associated Press reports, more than a white elephant, the plane now seems to be an albatross. Some Mexicans said they wouldn’t want to win it.

“I would not buy it,” Mexico City resident Lidia Flores said of the possible raffle tickets, saying she would have no idea of what to do with the hulking airliner is she won.

Even López Obrador expresses doubts about the idea, saying he worries that greed or envy could wreck the life of anyone who won the jet in a raffle.

“I don’t want to bear the guilt, because I would be responsible,” he said Tuesday. “It worries me. It’s the only thing holding me back, how to prevent something bad befalling the person who wins.”

Others see the raffle proposal as a distraction from Mexico’s real problems, like crime, violence and economic stagnation.

“This is a smoke screen,” said Eliseo Ochoa, a lawyer in Mexico City. “This is just a joke at the expense of the public.”

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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