Mexico's president-elect grounded for hours on commercial flight after he refuses to use luxury jet

‘I would be ashamed to have a luxury plane in a country with so much poverty,’ says left-wing leader 

Adam Forrest
Monday 24 September 2018 10:56 BST
Mexico's president-elect grounded for hours on commercial flight after he refuses to use luxury jet

Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to uphold a promise to sell a luxury presidential jet, despite getting grounded on a commercial flight.

Bad weather in Mexico City shut down the capital’s airport, forcing the recently-elected politician to wait on the tarmac with hundreds of other passengers for three hours.

The left-wing populist has pledged to turn his presidential palace into a cultural centre and sell the presidential plane costing $218m (£165m).

“I’m not going to change my mind because of this, I won't get on the presidential plane,” Mr Lopez Obrador said while stuck on the commercial jet.

The president-elect, who won by a landslide in July, added: “I would be ashamed… to have a luxury airplane in a country with so much poverty.”

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner – dubbed Mexico’s Air Force One – was commissioned by former president Felipe Calderón in 2012 and delivered in 2016.

Running as the anti-establishment candidate, Mr Lopez Obrador repeatedly attacked the idea of public officials using “luxury airplanes” on the campaign trial.

Last month the businessman Gustavo Jimenez Pons offered to buy the plane for $99m (£75m) and use it as a VIP air taxi.

Other government projects face an uncertain future following the leftist’s election victory. Work has already begun on a new $13bn (£9.8bn) airport for Mexico City after outgoing ministers decided the capital’s current airport was too crowded.

But Mr Lopez Obrador – who has vowed to run an austere government – has been sceptical of the project. His team have proposed an alternative plan to maintain the current airport and build two new runways at a military airbase near the capital.

There will be a public consultation in October on the airport's future.

Mexico’s new leader, also known as “Almo,” has also said he will refuse to accept Secret Service-style bodyguards when he is sworn in as president in December.

Mr Lopez Obrador’s flight from the beach resort of Huatulco on the Pacific coast was delayed by around four hours on Thursday, including the three hours he and others spent on board.

Additional reporting by agencies

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