Mexico's presidential plane is so luxurious the UN hasn't been able to sell it

The UN has been assisting Mexico in the sale of the plane

Mexico's presidential plane is so luxurious the UN hasn't been able to sell it
The Presidential plane was used during the Peña Nieto administration- Photo: Yadin Xolalpa/EL UNIVERSAL
English 18/08/2019 16:03 Alexis Ortiz Mexico City Actualizada 16:12
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After President López Obrador signed an agreement with the United Nations' Office for Project Services, the agency is moving to Mexico. Fabrizio Feliciani, the director of the office for Latin American and the Caribbean talked to EL UNIVERSAL about the plans the UN has for Mexico, including the sale of the presidential plane.

“It's really one of the impossible challenges we are facing,” said Feliciani when he was asked if it has been complicated to find a buyer for the Boeing 767 TP01 José María Morelos y Pavón, but he is sure the plane will be sold.

He revealed that when the sale was announced, there were up to 50 buyers; nevertheless, the number then lowered to less than 20. The plane's luxurious elements are one of the main obstacles to sell it, especially because it is not a standard model that can be purchased by an airline. This besides the average deterioration of the plane and the fact that it hasn't been used by the current administration.

Besides the sale of the presidential place, the UNOPS will also provide technical assistance in the planning and construction of the Maya Train and will aid in the hiring of passport emission services. Also, it has helped Mexico City with tender procedures for public transport and recently collaborated with the Finance Ministry in the purchase of medicines.


Has the José María Morelos y Pavón plane been sold?

–I'm sure it hasn't been sold yet. We are evaluating some offers, supporting the President of Mexico and the National Bank for Public Works and Services (Banobras) so that the best decision is made.

How many offers have been received?

–We published it in the United Nations website (…) The expressions of interest were around 50. The next step [was about] a little more than expressing interest: with some documents they had to fulfill some things (sic) to [confirm that] “I'm definitely interested;” in this step, there were around 20 people interested. Now we have a lower number of serious offers and with many more elements in order to make a decision.

Has the plane devalued or has its price decreased?

–The price in pesos hasn't [decreased]; the cost in pesos and updated in dollars, yes. We had two world-class, independent valuations and they coincided in the price. We have experts that are above them, the appraisers; we have inspected it technically and there are some things that have to be done so that [the plane] is in condition to fly for a commercial company.

Is this about mechanical repairs?

–Yes, but they are things that cost less than 10% of the plane's value. They are normal things that would happen to our car. It's a plane that has some time and flying hours but they also decay for the lack of flying hours. Basically, to understand, it is as if it was a vehicle: there is decay and you need to fix things.

Has the sale become complicated?

–The issue with the plane is that it is not standard: it is the second prototype of its class and many changes have been done to it. Things like leather seats have been installed, [details] that make it a luxury plane, [then] this makes it harder to sell because you are selling something that is not standard and then you add new ad hoc things. It is hard to find a buyer.

Is it hard to find someone who can afford it?

–It's not the price, it is rather what you are going to do with that. It's not another than a commercial line can use [but] rather a rare one, the only in its type, then [in this case] the buyer is not a normal one; also, it is difficult that an airline buys something that is not standard. The plane is probably going to be used in a different way. It has been hard to sell. [That is] really one of the impossible challenges we face.

What would happen in case it wasn't sold?

–I don't know. We are supporting the Mexican government to see if it can be sold in good conditions from an economic point of view; that is, that it is not sold for less than its full value. The owners are them.

What else will the UNOPS do?

–The government reached out to us because we are a UN agency that is in charge of public infrastructure, public acquisitions, programs and projects research; they want us to have the best public administration possible to avoid the other side of the coin: corruption.

What are these projects?

–The Maya train, the disposal of the presidential plane and a fleet of 72 planes. We helped the Health Minister and the Finance Ministry in the first centralized purchasing of medicines; we helped the Foreign Affairs Ministry to acquire the insurance services for the Mexican personnel abroad, as well as the new Mexican passport; with the Mexico City government, we had success with the cableway because we saved MXN $1,000 million and we maintained the quality of the service.

How can these savings be achieved in more projects?

–There is a worldwide conspiracy that believes that studying things properly is a waste of money. To prevent an increase in the price of projects, things have to be studied properly, designed properly. It is very simple but not very popular because the whole market wants quick results.

What problems are there in the contracts signed by Mexico?

–This country, like many others in Latin America, is over-regulated. There are many regulations because it is believed that this makes things more transparent and that there is more integrity but the more stages there are, from the conception of the idea until its realization, there are more chances of a man or a woman asks you for money to move to the next step.



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