Despite the biting economic recession in the country, the Federal Government has spent the sum of N5bn on the 10- aicraft Presidential Air Fleet in the last 15 months, document obtained exclusively from the Presidency by Saturday punch has revealed.
According to the document, the Presidency put the amount of money so far released for the Presidential Air Fleet since the inception of the current administration in May 2015 till date in the region of N5bn. The breakdown of the sum showed that N2.3bn was released for PAF by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation between May and November 2015. That figure included releases for personnel costs, overheads and capital expenditures; out of the N5.19bn appropriated for PAF in the 2015 budget. Of the sum, the Presidency said N99.715m was spent on aircraft maintenance, spares and subscription services.
The sum of N98.5m was also spent on operations; N165.373m on training and N85.5m on personnel medicals and overheads. During the period, the document claimed that PAF spent N1.350bn to settle outstanding liabilities carried over from 2014 while N500m was refunded to the NSA for financial support rendered for the maintenance of the Fleet prior to release of funds.
According to findings from aviation experts, however, the Federal Government may have spent about N19.9bn on the 10-aircraft PAF in the last 15 months of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The large-size PAF inherited from the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is the second largest airline in the country, coming after Arik Air which has 23 aircraft in its fleet.
According to experts’ estimated projections of expenses made in line with the cost of running and maintaining airplanes, about $65.13m (N19.9bn), using the official exchange rate of N305.5 per dollar, may have been spent on the 10-aicraft presidential fleet between May 29, 2015 and August 29, 2016.
According to the Presidency, the PAF contains 10 aircraft. These are:
Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800 or AirForce One), one Gulfstream 550, one Gulfstream V (Gulfstream 500), two Falcons 7X, one Hawker Sidley 4000, two AgustaWestland AW 139 helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW 101 helicopters. Each of the two Falcon 7X jets were purchased in 2010 by the Federal Government for $51.1m, while the Gulfstream 550 costs $53.3m, a former Minister of Information, the late Pro. Dora Akunyili, had said.
The price of other aircraft in the fleets could not be ascertained. But according to Wikipedia, price.wescrawler. com and airline executives, the factory price of other aircraft in the fleet are: Boeing Business Jet, $59m; HS 4000, $22.9m; AgustaWestland 139, $12m; and AgusatWestland 101, $21m. This brings a combined estimated value of Nigeria’s PAF to $347.4m (N106.13bn).
According to airline chief executives and industry experts, airlines spend between 15 and 20 per cent of the cost of an aircraft on its operation yearly. They explained that averagely, a little less than one-fifth of the cost of the plane is spent every year on insurance, flight and cabin crew, maintenance, fuelling, catering and training.
Using a conservative percentage of 15 per cent, it means that about $52.11m (N15.92bn) must have been spent on the presidential fleet by May 29, 2016. A quarter of the annual maintenance cost ($52.11 or N15.92bn) would also have been spent to maintain the 10- aircraft in the presidential fleet in three months after May 29, if the Federal Government followed experts’ recommendation on maintenance of its air fleet.
This means that between June and August this year, an additional $13.02m (N3.98bn) would have been spent in principle to maintain the 10- aicraft presidential fleet. It means, all things being equal, between May 29, 2015 and August 29, 2016 (15 months), the Presidency would have spent $65.13m (N19.9bn) to maintain the 10-aicraft presidential fleet.