A luxurious plane hired by the Italian government to transport the Prime Minister on state visits around the world is reportedly unusable until the country’s Air Force can be trained to fly it.
An anonymous pilot told satirical news programme Striscia la Notizia that the aircraft, leased by the United Arab Emirates’ Etihad Airways in October, had arrived in Rome before officials realised that there was no one qualified to be the pilot.
“At the moment no Air Force pilots - who are the only ones authorised to fly the plane – have the necessary qualifications,” the pilot said. "People are currently being trained."
The informant also claimed that the airport traditionally used for departures and arrivals from state visits, Rome Ciampino, has runways too narrow for the new plane’s wingspan.
Italy is paying a rumoured €1 million a month for the Airbus A340-500, which has been lavishly refitted with an ensuite bathroom and a conference room, The Local reported.
The plane’s arrival was first reported earlier this year in Italian newspapers, who said that it was intended to replace the much smaller A319 currently flying Prime Minister Matteo Renzi around the world.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper reports that the old jet needs to land every five hours to refuel, necessitating stops in countries including Russia and Kazakhstan that will no longer be necessary.
Mr Renzi’s office has not publicly commented on the claims or responded to the Independent’s request for a comment.
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