SA Airways swoops to Zuma and Motlanthe’s rescue

2011-12-03 16:25

The SA National Defence Force has asked national carrier South African Airways to provide alternative planes for President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe.

This comes after a series of embarrassing mechanical problems, which have affected Motlanthe’s aircraft since 2009, resulted in his missing an official trip to Finland two months ago.

Following the grounding of Motlanthe, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu met SAA and the Treasury to discuss ensuring efficient planes for the country’s first two citizens.

“SAA is our national government carrier and it’s natural that they should be our first port of call,” Sisulu told City Press this week.

“They’ve got reserves of planes and we have a lot of technical reserves so we can work together”.

The SANDF would pay for the SAA planes and the department hopes for cheaper rates than renting from the private sector.

“Both the SAA board and chief executive are very cooperative. We’re all asking ourselves why we took so long to think about this”.

SAA would provide long-range planes, which can fly long distances without refuelling, for emergencies such as when one of the VIP planes has to be repaired.

SAA spokesperson Diloseng Koetle said: “SAA has sent a proposal to SANDF regarding their requirements. This lease will be on a contractual basis, as and when required, taking into consideration the availability of the aircraft and thus not impacting the scheduled operations of SAA.”

Motlanthe is flown in a 19-year-old Falcon 900 Jet, which can fly only 2 500 nautical miles – less than half the distance to London – before refuelling, according to a confidential internal memorandum written by Sisulu and obtained by the Mail & Guardian in April.

The memo was motivating for the purchase of four bigger, long-range VIP planes. That plan was abandoned because of financial constraints.

Zuma uses a Boeing 737 aircraft, named Inkwazi, bought for former president Thabo Mbeki 10 years ago.

Since assuming office in 2009, Motlanthe has been on the receiving end of a few scares caused by problematic planes. Two years ago, he was flying back from an African Union summit in Libya when his aircraft made an emergency landing on an unlit runway in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In September, a jet flying Motlanthe to the opening of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand missed its first landing slot because of a faulty warning light. It was the same aircraft that failed to get him to Finland.

This debacle – which saw Motlanthe having to take a commercial flight – led to secretary of defence, Mpumi Mpofu, resigning.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.