Soaring Maintenance Costs Of Nigeria’s Presidential Aircraft Raises Concern

Soaring Maintenance Costs Of Nigeria’s Presidential Aircraft Raises Concern

The maintenance of Nigeria’s presidential aircraft, Air Force 001, has come under scrutiny due to its substantial financial implications, with costs running into billions of naira.

A senior official intimately involved with the upkeep of the presidential fleet disclosed to Daily Trust the financial burdens associated with the aircraft’s routine maintenance and parts procurement.

This financial strain is not a recent development, as concerns over the aircraft’s maintenance costs have persisted for some time.

The situation prompted the former Presidential Air Fleet Commander, AVM AA Yaro, to suggest demobilising the aircraft.

Air Force 001, a 737 Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), was acquired during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure for $43 million.

The Boeing BBJ, whose production commenced in 1998, initially sold for $36 million in its unfinished state.

The market price for a used model currently stands at $41 million, with new units fetching as much as $71 million.

Despite the age of an aircraft not directly affecting its performance, it is widely acknowledged that older aircraft tend to incur higher maintenance costs compared to their newer, more modern counterparts.

In anticipation of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu‘s inauguration, the aircraft underwent comprehensive maintenance during the final month of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Since assuming office, President Tinubu has seen the aircraft undergo additional maintenance cycles, both scheduled and unscheduled.

Insiders familiar with the presidential fleet’s operations revealed that the aircraft’s maintenance expenses had accumulated over $5 million, nearly half of the presidential fleet’s inherited liabilities exceeding $10 million.

A source who spoke with the platform said, “Due to the age of the aircraft, maintenance cost has increased in recent times, and the amount of money spent on maintenance is huge. I am wondering how long it would take to continue to spend this much on maintenance when it could have been disposed of and a new one purchased.”

The General Secretary, Society of Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (SLAMEN), Sheri Kyari, advised that purchasing a new one would be better to reduce the maintenance cost.

Kyari said, “It is better for the government to buy a new one. How much is a brand new aircraft? They should be able to get something much better from Boeing. For me, Boeing is still the way to go.”

The platform revealed that neighbouring countries have fairly newer aircraft compared to Nigeria. For instance, Ivory Coast, apart from having two Gulfstream aircraft in the presidential fleet, also operates A319 and A320 for longer trips. Senegal uses A320Neo and A319 in addition to other smaller jets.

For most African countries, the Airbus and BBJ have become the choice aircraft used for presidential movement, which can convey at least 30 passengers in a VIP cabin.

An aircraft engineer who did not want his name in print said, “Even the US president’s aircraft is older than our president’s. Is the US president not flying a 747? That aircraft cannot be less than 30. You can actually put a brand new engine on an aircraft and it becomes new.

“Again, we must acknowledge that the president is an important personality. So, you cannot micromanage things for him. He deserves something better, but when we know the history and maintenance record of the aircraft, we can decide to say, ‘Okay, this is what we should do.”

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