Mexico City (Reuters) – Mexico’s presidential jet has been sold to Tajikistan, the government said on Thursday, seemingly closing the final chapter on a political saga that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador used repeatedly to assail the excesses of his predecessors.
Lopez Obrador announced in a post on Twitter that the agreed sale price for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner used by his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto – but never by him – was about 1.66 billion pesos, or about $92 million.
In a video accompanying the post, the president said the sale demonstrated how Mexican politics has changed under his leadership.
“It’s important that everyone knows how people thought before, how the authorities acted, like little pharaohs,” he said, sitting in a high leather-backed seat, flanked by officials.
More details of the sale of the plane to the Central Asian country would be disclosed next week, including what he described as the aircraft’s exorbitant maintenance costs.
One of the officials with the president, Jorge Mendoza, head of national development bank Banobras, said the Tajikistan state council that purchased the plane has about 10 days to take possession of it.
The populist leftist who has for decades railed against corruption of political elites, had previously said he hoped to sell the aircraft for at least $150 million, down from its original $218 million purchase price in 2012.
Shortly after Lopez Obrador took office in late 2018, he announced plans to sell the jet, which featured marble touches and official government seals emblazoned on the walls along with multiple flat-screen monitors.
But years went by with no sale, and at one point the frugal Mexican leader, who has championed budget austerity during his more than four years in office, proposed to raffle off the aircraft.
Lopez Obrador, who takes commercial flights when he does travel, said the proceeds of the sale will be used to build two 80-bed public hospitals in southern Guerrero and Oaxaca states, among the country’s poorest regions.
“They will be built by military engineers and will be inaugurated before my term ends,” he added.