AMLO Upgrades to Private Military Jet After Years of Flying Coach

Every powerful person has a limit for coach flights, even the famously austere Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

(Bloomberg) — Every powerful person has a limit for coach flights, even the famously austere Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

AMLO, as the leader is known, will take this week the farthest trip of his presidency in a private plane that belongs to Mexico’s military, a break from his much-hyped stance earlier in his presidency to fly commercial routes to demonstrate his allegiance to government austerity.

The president will visit Colombia on Sept. 8 and later head to Chile for a gathering of Latin American political leaders for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Augusto Pinochet’s coup that ended democracy in the Andean country. Since the president can select the route, AMLO’s plane will avoid flying over the airspace of Peru, with which Mexico has had a political conflict since the impeachment of prior leader Pedro Castillo, he said to press on Wednesday.

“We’re going in a plane of the air force, in a small group,” AMLO said. “We’re going to go around to reach Santiago, in Chile. It’ll take us longer.”

AMLO was a stickler for flying coach after taking power in late 2018 to make a point about how he was different from Mexico’s traditionally lavish political leaders. In 2020, he flew coach to Washington to visit then-President Donald Trump with a layover in Atlanta. After many years of trying, he eventually sold the presidency’s Boeing 787, which was bought by a predecessor and that he refused to use — even if at a loss to the country’s finances.

Read More: Mexico Finally Sells Presidential Jet to Tajikistan at a Loss

The president’s presence in domestic commercial flights and local airports, typically surrounded by reporters and bystanders, was a recurrent image in the first part of his six-year term. Some passengers who all of a sudden found him on their flights said they were worried about how safe it was to travel with him, and at times he left his daily press conferences with the excuse that he had to catch a flight that was about to take off.

A health scare he had in the Yucatan state earlier this year during a local tour forced him to return to Mexico City on an air ambulance, fueling speculation about his medical condition and making the need of using private jets more urgent. 

As part of his tight relationship with the armed forces, AMLO has sought to expand the military’s role in air travel, tasking them with running their own state-owned airline with a new fleet of Boeing jets, a revival of a Mexican airline that went into bankruptcy.

Read More: AMLO Airline to Take Off With 4 Billion Pesos, 10 Jets

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