Use of back-up plane for Zuma ‘not uncommon’

2012-01-19 08:59

The use of a back-up plane to shadow President Jacob Zuma’s jet during his recent visit to the US was not an uncommon practice around the world, the defence department has said.

This follows a report in Business Day, according to which the Bombardier Global Express ZS-AMP was chartered by a private company to shadow Zuma’s jet.

DA defence spokesperson David Maynier told the newspaper the back-up plane was unnecessary.

Defence spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said the plane was used as a back-up in case Zuma’s jet suffered a mechanical fault during the flight.

“There were two aircraft, but one of them turned back halfway and landed on a nearby island.

“The president’s jet was out of circulation for three months while it had gone for a service. It is technically expected for the plane to accompany the president in case there was a problem with the jet.”

Mabaya denied that the plane had followed Zuma into the US.

“It stopped halfway because the jet was okay and it waited until the president came back to South Africa, in case something happened on the return journey,” he said.

Zuma was in the US ahead of South Africa assuming the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, which is based in New York. 

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