President’s plane unserviceable but SAA flies to the rescue

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.Picture: ANN7

THE VIP fleet meant to fly President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza is “unserviceable”, Defence Minister Nosiviwe MapisaNqakula said. She said in a written replay tabled in Parliament that private aircraft were being hired to transport President Ramaphosa, Deputy President Mabuza and herself.

The total bill is close to R31m, with the cost of the president’s flights envisaged to be R22m, while that of the deputy president predicted to be R7m and that of herself R2m. The minister gave this information in reply to a question from Cope member of parliament Willie Madisha who asked her about the operational status of the aircraft under the control of the 21 Squadron of the SA Air Force. Madisha also inquired about any contingency arrangements that have been made given the operational status of the fleet and asked for information about repairs to the aircraft. Mapisa-Nqakula said: “The VIP fleet is unserviceable. The maintenance support user requirement to place contracts are still being finalised for all systems.

“The South African Air Force will utilise the national Ttreasury RT61 contract for hiring aircraft or charter through SAA.” In reply to another question, this time from DA member of parliament, Sarel Marais, Mapisa-Nqakula said she named the companies that were being used to supply aircraft for hire for the use of herself, President Ramaphosa and the Deputy President.

She said they are ExecuJet SA, Fortune Air, National Airways Corporation, VOGN and South African Airways. Mapisa-Nqakula gave the costs incurred in using aircraft from other airlines as National Airways Corporation R17m, Execujet SA R13m, Fortune Air R 8m, VOGN R 8m and South African Airways R2m.