Presidency once again demands the Government to approve the purchase of a presidential plane, and it brings financial arguments. One third of the budget destined for travels was spent on renting planes in the first part of the year. For four years, the presidency has no plane, and for two years, it has no preferential contract with TAROM either.
What versions are there left? Discussions concern two planes, including a smaller one when an alternative is needed. Nonetheless, specialists think one would do. Perhaps a military plane, with added safety elements. It would cost USD 100 million.
Mircea Budiaci, ex-Manager of Romavia, was assigned to manage presidential planes for many years and thinks that a 20-seat presidential plane would fit a President perfectly.
“A delegation is not supposed to overwhelm the territory of another country. We still practiced the walking system, the plane was filled with passengers, and it was a wrong thing to do”, Mircea Budiaci declared, according to digi24.ro.
The expert recommends the President an Air Force. “I would use military planes. He should receive such plane, because all over the civilised world, Air Force is destined for VIP missions. A plane equipped this way should cost up to 100 million, and the currency practiced for these purchases is usually USD”, Budiaci also mentioned.
Such price is justified by the equipment that is different to that of a passenger flight.
“It is different, as far as comfort is concerned. It has to have spaces for rest, for changing clothes and dressing up because, while you are attending an official visit, you cannot get off the plane wearing rumpled clothes. It needs additional devices for special communications”, Mircea Budiaci mentioned.
The President should have an office equipped with a printer, a fax and a satellite connected telephone. Also, aviation specialists say that a President’s plane should not be rented. There are no proper guarantees that it is well preserved and too many people know the flights of the President. At the time being, the Head of the State pays TAROM RON 400,000, which is EUR 88,000 for each flight abroad. The Presidential Administration claims it has already spent one third of the sum destined for this year’s travels, that is over EUR 270,000, and demands the Government an official plane.
“I am ashamed to see that countries much smaller than us have planes of the state”, says Dan Mihalache, Head of the President’s Chancellery.
Romania’s Presidency has remained without a plane in 2013, based on a scandal between Traian Basescu and Transportation Minister of the time, Relu Fenechiu.
“There is a budget for maintaining flight capacity of RON 22 million. We pay EUR 7 million merely for maintenance costs, let alone operation costs”, Relu Fenechiu had declared in February 2013.
“This is a lie. That plane, in the absence of a decision that it should be sold, was kept in the airshed and required these costs. The fact that the Presidency used to rent it when I had to travel brought it some earnings”, Traian Basescu responded in March 2013.
Before the Airbus 320 plane, Romania’s presidents used to travel with a Boeing 707, inherited from Nicolae Ceausescu’s time. The plane was disused in 2010, because it no longer had the right to land on European airports because of excessive noise. Yet, an exception was made for the flights made by presidents.
Yet, there are states that do not save their money when it comes to Presidential planes. Barack Obama’s plane has a conference hall, offices for personnel and for the media, a surgery room and two kitchens. The total surface is 372 square metres. An hour of flying with Air Force One costs approximately EUR 200,000. Ukraine’s presidents were spoiled, too. They have a fleet of six planes, including an Airbus 319, with bedrooms, showers and a bar, that has cost approximately USD 60 million, digi24.ro informs.
Ponta on Presidential Plane
PM Victor Ponta declared on Monday that there were discussions regarding the purchase of an official plane and that a common working group will be founded, inclusing the Presidential Administration, the Government, SPP and the Ministry of Defence, to launch soon a proposal on this topic, both to him and the President.
“We have a dialogue on this topic. As you know very well, in 2013 as well as in 2014, I have pointed out that it is a fact of dignity to a country, and it is also more financially advantageous that the high officials mentioned by the law: the President of the country, the Prime Minister, the President of the Senate and of the Chamber of Deputies should have an official plane. But the one who opposed it was Traian Basescu. Either he was seeking popularity, or his term was about to end soon and he would not benefit of this plane too much.
Obviously, based on the discussions we will conduct along the Presidential Administration and the SPP, we will reach a decision and announce you about it. (…) The President of the country and I do not know anything about the planes. There are a few people specialized in this domain, who come here and make proposals to us. And if you asked me a principial thing, a political decision, I have given an answer. I have no idea whether the plain would be big or small, whether it would be blue or red, whether it would have three seats right or left. I do not know how to answer these questions and it is not my responsibility either. A common working group including the Presidential Administration, the Government, SPP and the Ministry of Defence will be established and, depending on what specialists suggest us, we will let you know”, Ponta declared at the Parliament Palace.
Asked whether it would be possible to grant a big sum of money at the next budget correction to purchase this plane, Ponta mentioned that it is a public acquisition and all legal requirements must be fulfilled.
“It is possible that, after the correction, we will be able to grant any sum they needed yet, as you know very well, laws regarding public acquisitions must be obeyed, especially that it is not a small sum, there are important sums, and all criteria established by the law should be respected”, the Prime Minister outlined.