The South African Air Force (SAAF) has paid about R90 million to Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd since 2005 to date to provide “product support services” to the presidential Boeing Business Jet (BBJ). The latest extension of a R33.2 million contract awarded in July 2005 was for R31.705 million and came last Thursday.
The BBJ, a modified Boeing 737-700 was acquired in the 1990s under Project Jarmen I at a cost of US37.5 million for the aircraft and US$13.5 million for the fittings, translating to about R500 million at the time, plus R82 million in value added tax, according to an INet-Bridge report, Presidential Jet costs detailed, on October 18, 2002. The aircraft made its first flight in 1998 and was delivered to the SAAF on June 26, 2001, replacing the Dassault Falcon 900 used as presidential transport up to that time. It was named Inkwazi (Fish Eagle) and is registered as ZS-RSA.
The Mail & Guardian reported earlier in April that Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu in a confidential memorandum argued for two Boeing 767 VIP transports for the dedicated use of President Jacob Zuma, two Boeing 737s for his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, and two smaller Challenger or Bombardier Global Express XRS jets for “former presidents and ministers”.
“One aircraft for intercontinental presidential travel is woefully inadequate,” Sisulu argued in the memo. “In the event that the BBJ [Boeing Business Jet] is unserviceable or in servicing, there is not another kind of aircraft that is able to fulfil presidential air transport requirements.” Motlanthe is currently flown in the Falcon 900, which also provides back-up services to Zuma. This 19-year-old aircraft can fly only 2500 nautical miles before refuelling, less than half the distance to London, the memo points out. Attached to the memo is a letter from aviation services firm Execujet, arguing that it would be cheaper to buy new aircraft than to continue operating those more than 10 years old.
Secretary for Defence Mpumi Mpofu said the price of the lease had to be offset against the ever-increasing cost of maintaining the ever-more-elderly VIP-transport fleet as well as the cost of leasing when the BBJ, Falcon 900, two Falcon 50s and assorted smaller aircraft were either unavailable or unsuitable. She described the costs as increasingly “untenable.”
According to the Armscor Bulletin System the value of product support services for the BBJ now stands at R89 866 143.54.
Presidential Boeing business jet product support services – extension of ELGS/2004/484
LGS/S2011/4768 14 Jul 2011 R31 705 444,00 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
LGS/S2010/4685 21 Apr 2011 R1 413 664,77 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
LGS/S2010/4522 22 Dec 2010 R2 362 850,28 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
LGS/S2009/4336 22 Apr 2010 R4 385 225,00 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
LGS/S2009/4185 18 Feb 2010 R438 597,00 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
LGS/S2009/4184 3 Dec 2009 R526 315,00 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
LGS/S2009/4147 15 Oct 2009 R868 421,00 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
LGS/S2008/3947 26 Mar 2009 R4 593 798,00 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
LGS/S2008/3802 9 Oct 2008 R421 053,49 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
LGS/S2008/3773 14 Aug 2008 R8 243 218,00 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
LGS/S2008/3746 26 Jun 2008 R1 646 202,00 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd
Boeing Business Jet product support services
ELGS/2004/484 21 Jul 2005 R33 261 355,00 Execujet Maintenance (Pty) Ltd