Two private jets that ferried the country’s political elite in luxury are going under the hammer at the end of the month – as government seeks to buy new aircraft. The two DC-9s – one of which was owned by Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale’s family – have been in service since 1966. They are owned and operated by air charter company, Elite Jet, the Sunday Times reports.
One of the aircraft, registered as ZS-MNT, most recently took former president Nelson Mandela to his rural home in Qunu, Eastern Cape. Previously it has flown former president Thabo Mbeki to Darfur in Sudan. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has used it too, as has former UN chief Kofi Annan. Accounts of their trips have been recorded in a guest book, which goes to the successful bidder as part of the deal.
“The guest book certainly is a notable feature as it documents the three-year history of carrying SA dignitaries and associated ministers in Africa, especially the trip to Darfur with Mbeki,” said Ariella Kuper, a director at Auction Alliance, the company tasked with the auction on November 30 at Lanseria Airport, Johannesburg.
The second jet, ZS-PYB, previously belonged to the Sexwale family trust and has the family crest emblazoned on a glass panel inside the cabin. It has a state room with a double bed, private toilet as well as a bar in the main salon. Both jets, with 36 000 hours of flight time each, have veneer finishes throughout, personal DVD entertainment systems and plush cream leather seats which convert to beds. They have on-board kitchen facilities, private seating areas for conferences and flat-screen TVs. “The retractable staircases they each have are a definite feature,” said Kuper.
A US aviation website has advertised both aircraft for sale at $1250000 each (about R10-million). But Kuper said that, as a guide, both were worth about half that amount as going concerns. “Whilst we have a reserve, it will ultimately be at the discretion of the sellers on the final price they will accept,” he said.