Zuma now flying solo
Erika Gibson, Die Burger
Pretoria - While it took three jets, 16 pilots and at least 18 cabin crew members to get President Jacob Zuma to New York and back two weeks ago, this week he flew to Qatar, Switzerland and Ethiopia on a single plane.
There was no sign of the two shadow planes that were apparently needed to ensure that Zuma arrived on time in New York.
According to conservative estimates, there were three pilots, one flight engineer and two cabin crew on Inkwazi - Zuma’s Boeing business jet - for the New York trip. A complete relief crew was sent on ahead to take over from the first crew.
The Airbus A340 that followed Inkwazi to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands had three pilots. Another three pilots and eight crew members were sent ahead to Las Palmas as relief crew. The Bombardier Global Express that followed Zuma and his party from New York, had four pilots and four crew cabin crew members.
Now it appears the presidential business jet will function as it has over the last few years: alone, with a crew on duty and a relief crew.
An investigation into the alleged extravagant planning of the New York trip is also believed to be under way, as it had apparently not been approved at defence force top level.
The air force said on Wednesday in a statement that the Airbus was only available for the first leg of the trip as a shadow plane to New York, while the Bombardier was only available on the return flight. The air force would always keep a plane on standby when Zuma left on a critical or important mission, read the statement.