Mr Eugene Arhin, Director of Communications at the Presidency, disclosed the government of Ghana’s plans to acquire a new presidential jet for official state travels.
“Government is already in the process of acquiring a bigger jet for use,” Mr. Arhin said at a press briefing at the Jubilee House on Monday.
Mr Arhin remarked on the question of whether the government intended buying a bigger presidential jet to accommodate the President and his entourage on official foreign trips as the current presidential jet in Ghana seemed not to fit the purpose. The Minister of Defence is said to be handling the acquisition process and expected to give details to the public later on.
“The Minister of Defence has made it clear that the government has decided to buy a bigger jet to save us from all these troubles. I wouldn’t want to go into details. I am sure when the Minister of Defence has the opportunity he will do that,” Mr Arhin said.
Reason for the new Presidential jet
In 2007, President John Agyekum Kufour planned to purchase two presidential jets. A Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) which could seat over 100 passengers and about 40 passengers on VVIP and a Falcon 900 EX-Easy aircraft which could only seat 12 passengers minus crew.
However, when President J.E.A. Mills took over office, the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) was cancelled allowing for the Falcon 900 EX-Easy aircraft to be acquired.
In recent times, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo relies on hired aircraft for his presidential travels instead of the Falcon 900 EX-Easy aircraft. This, over the past weeks and months, has made waves on social media and the airwaves with Ghanaians wondering why the President needed to hire a private aircraft given the already existing presidential jet (Falcon 900 EX-Easy aircraft).
According to the Defence Minister, Dominic Ntwiful, the Falcon 900 EX-Easy aircraft had a very low seating capacity coupled with a lot of refuelling stops for long travels which did not make economic sense.
“The capacity of the current Falcon aircraft is far below that of Fokker 28 which flew very, very important persons of more than 25 passengers during the Acheampong, Akufo, Rawlings and Kufuor eras. Hence the urgent need for an appropriate aircraft which can carry better payload in terms of passengers of 70 to 100 people and to carry all their baggage without affecting the performance of the aircraft,” Mr Dominic Ntwiful said.
“This aircraft will carry a load of 11 persons minus the crew. When this aircraft is travelling to the eastern part of the USA or Asia, it will not load a crew of more than eight plus the luggage. So it depends on where it is going,
Secondly, I have also said the aircraft has to do refuelling stops. Also in this COVID-19, when you are travelling to multiple destinations like the president’s recent travel, the Falcon couldn’t have been taken because he would have had to do technical stops which are not desirable. And when he is travelling with more than 20 people like he has been doing for business trips that brought huge sums of money for this country, he will need more than just a Falcon, otherwise, the others would have to go a day ahead before the president to prepare themselves,” Dominic Nitiwul added.
In a radio interview in Accra, Mr Dominic Ntwiful noted that since the cancellation of the deal for the acquisition of the bigger presidential jet by the Mills administration, the country had spent more than US$50 million on official trips of the government.
If the intention to acquire a new presidential jet is to minimize cost, then certainly, the maintenance cost of the jet must be looked at. The establishment of Ghana’s first aircraft maintenance facility might prove useful in this regard.