Natanyahu still considering recommendationdespite viability of purchasing an aircraft having already been verified and even recommended, The reason: A NIS 30 million ($8.3 million) price tag that would only pay for itself in five years, and fear of public scorn.
Shlomo Cesana and Israel Hayom Staff
The Prime Minister’s Office is evaluating the possibility of purchasing an airplane for Israel’s top politicians similar to the U.S.’ Air Force One. The goal of the purchase would be to allow official work to be done during flights and to meet the needs of the prime minister, president and various officials who would be on board. If the plane is to be purchased, it would be fitted with special communications systems, office equipment and an anti-missile defense system.
On his recent reduced-price flight to Poland, the prime minister and staff were forced to improvise proper work conditions and fly by the seat of their pants.
The decision to expedite the talks over purchasing the aircraft was a result of the series of difficulties that hampered the prime minister’s recent flight to Poland, where he and his entourage returned from Thursday. During the flight the prime minister’s satellite phone did not work, due to difficulties operating the device on the small aircraft, according to the PMO.
When Education Minister Shay Piron suffered a suspected cardiac episode on the flight, there was no room for him to be laid down due to overcrowding on the plane. Netanyahu had to write his Poland speech on an improvised desk brought on board, while his entourage and escorts “bonded” in the front the airplane, with no separate business class compartment.
The prime minister has been deliberating over a plane purchase for five years and has yet to decide. Although a special committee on the topic verified the viability of the idea and even recommended buying an Israeli Air Force One, Netanyahu opted not to do so. The reason: A price tag of 30 million shekels ($8.3 million), which would only pay for itself after five years, and because it is hard to predict how the plane would fare over those five years. There is also the concern that the purchase would be perceived by the public as egregious spending at a time of austerity measures, which is a sensitive subject in the public’s eyes given last month’s outcry over the prime minister and his wife installing a bed on an El Al flight for nearly half a million shekels.
Meanwhile, the PMO denied a media report that an Arkia Airlines flight to Eilat was grounded and its passengers sent to take a bus because the prime minister needed use of the aircraft. The PMO asked Arkia to clarify the issue and make known that it was not because of the prime minster.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=10007