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Trump’s Air Force One jibe: No frills to luxury, here’s how world leaders fly

Trump’s tweet has put the focus on Air Force One – an oval office-in-the-air-- fitted with the best communication and defence technology.

world Updated: Dec 07, 2016 14:50 IST
Aparna Alluri
Donald Trump
United States president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in New Delhi next to Air Force One, the US presidential aircraft.(T. Narayanan/ HT Photo)

US President-elect Donald Trump thinks Boeing’s new presidential aircraft is too expensive, and he tweeted on Tuesday that the order should be cancelled. This sent Boeing stocks down $2/share before markets opened on Tuesday.

It’s unclear if the tweet from America’s first billionaire-president was driven by thrift or the Boeing CEO’s criticism of Trump’s trade policy. But Boeing says the planes, which won’t be ready for service until 2024, won’t cost that much. All this has put the focus on the US presidential aircraft, or Air Force One – an oval office-in-the-air--fitted with the best communication and defence technology.

But it’s a privilege not all heads of state or government exclusively enjoy. Here’s a look at the planes used by some of the world’s top leaders:

Japan

The two Boeing 747-400s used by the Japanese prime minister are known as “seifu senyo ki” or, in English, Air Force One. But he shares it with the Emperor. It’s also available to transport citizens during an emergency.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and his wife Akie Abe (R) arrive in Munich, Germany, in 2016 on the Japan’s Air Force One, the country’s official jet for the president and Emperor. (AFP)

Britain

The British prime minister’s new aircraft , a Royal Air Force Airbus A330 known as the Voyager ,was refitted at an estimated 10 million pounds. It will also be used by senior ministers and the royal family. The UK’s Daily Mail dubbed it “Austerity One” because it resembled a commercial airline: 58 business class seats followed by rows of economy-style seating.

China

The Chinese president uses a modified commercial aircraft - usually a Boeing 747-400 from Air China - when he travels. China reportedly came close to ordering a Boeing jet for presidential travel in 2001 but backed out when they found 27 listening devices in the plane - a story that has never been verified.

President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan greet dignitaries before boarding an Air China plane at Manchester airport in 2015. (Getty Images)

France

The French president uses an Airbus A330-200 referred to as Cotam Unité. The aircraft, refurbished at a cost of $243 million, is rumoured to be equipped with a bathtub and a pizza oven – which many say is in keeping with the flamboyant lifestyle of former president Nicholas Sarkozy who first used it -- but the French government insists it is just a regular corporate jet.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives by plane for the G8 Summit in Deauville, France, in 2011. (Getty Images)

India

The Indian president and prime minister use jets from a fleet of Boeing 747s – with the call sign Air India One -- that are customised for “VIP travel”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to get an upgraded, state-of-the art Boeing 777-300, reports say.

Prime Minister Narendra Mod arrives at the Tashkent International Airport in Uzbekistan in 2016 (PTI)