No legroom on current presidential jet, seats unadjustable – Bawumia’s aide reveals

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The presidential jet on tarmac in Mali during a visit by Akufo-Addo in 2019 The presidential jet on tarmac in Mali during a visit by Akufo-Addo in 2019

Dr. Gideon Boako, the spokesperson for Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, has explained why Ghana needs a new presidential jet amid the raging public and political debate about its propriety or otherwise.

Dr. Boako explained on Joy FM’s News File program of October 2, that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s decision to charter jets for travels outside the continent was based on advice from National Security.

He said the outfit, which is in charge of presidential travels, had advised that the current jet was not safe for travels beyond four to six hours hence the need to charter jets for longer trips.

He also revealed certain details about the inside of the jet and how discomforting it was for the president and his entourage. He said seats on the Dassualt Falcon 900 EXE were unadjustable and that there was hardly legroom for passengers.

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“Those who have been arguing about whether we should charter or should we buy, I am not an expert but I have travelled on presidential convoys before and I have used the current presidential jet.

“To be honest with you this presidential jet, there are times that even when we have to travel within Ghana, if I had my way, I will go and use a commercial jet than using the presidential jet.

“You need to enter this presidential jet and see how the whole arrangement is made. Even when the president sits and somebody sits in front of him in opposite direction without stretching your legs, both of you, your legs touch each other.

“The seats are unadjustable, there is no way you can recline in it, they are so fixed. You need to enter the presidential jet and see,” he stressed.

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He said there were occasions he personally avoided using it and opted to fly commercial especially on local trips he was involved in.

“But that is what we have and the president makes do with that within and across ECOWAS. But it is not in such a situation that you want to use it to travel for long hours, that will be unbearable,” he added.

The 2018 flight mishap and advice from National Security

“The President at all materials times whether he was traveling within the continent across the oceans was using the presidential jet. President Akufo-Addo prior to September 2018 had consistently used the presidential jet until the jet developed some faults and the National Security advised that the presidential jet in such a state will be not proper for travels across the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.

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“So the President uses it (Presidential jet) anytime he is traveling within ECOWAS. It is only when he is going on a long haul journey which is beyond four to six hours that he uses chartered flights.”

Ablakwa’s campaign against ‘luxurious’ chartered travels

The debate around presidential travels and the jet has been championed by North Tongu Member of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who has alleged that three luxurious charter travels by the president had cost the taxpayer in excess of 10 million cedis.

Eugene Arhin, Director of Communications at the Presidency announced recently that the government had plans of acquiring a new presidential jet because the current one was not fit for purpose.

He said Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul will give further details on the planned acquisition in due course.

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