MEXICO — Can you imagine boarding a commercial flight and finding out the person sitting next to you is the President of Mexico? It could actually happen.
It’s only been three days since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office, but some of his campaign promises are already in motion.
During his leftist bid for presidency, Lopez Obrador vowed to sell the presidential plane — a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner TP-01 — and use the proceeds to help his country’s poorer communities.
“I will not get on the presidential plane. I would be embarrassed. My face would be filled with shame if I board such a luxurious plane in a country with so much poverty,” López Obrador said in a video posted to Twitter in September.
True to his word, just one day after taking office López Obrador flew on a commercial airline to the Gulf state of Veracruz. The President was photographed at Mexico City International Airport traveling just like any other passenger, reported CNN affiliate ForoTV.
A video posted to Twitter showed López Obrador in what appeared to be coach class. At least he had a window seat.
The next day, the luxurious presidential plane arrived at the Southern California Logistics Airport where it will be evaluated for sale, Carlos Urzúa, Mexico’s Treasury Secretary, announced in a press release.
The airplane, named José María Morelos y Pavón, was acquired in November 2012 by the Mexican government for $218.7 million. Its price tag caused some controversy and the plane was not put into use until 2016, after former president Enrique Peña Nieto commissioned a study that determined the government would lose a lot of money on a sale of the aircraft.
Photos of the plane, Mexico’s version of Air Force One, show wide leather seats, a double bed and a spacious bathroom with a shower.
Although it is not clear how much will the aircraft sell for, Urzúa said that government officials will work to maximize the value of the aircraft.
“From now on, the public will be kept informed about the sale process, as well as the plan for its use, guaranteeing the transparency that this process demands,” he said in press release.
In total Mexican officials plan to sell around 60 airplanes and 70 helicopters belonging to the federal government, Urzúa announced.
López Obrador won a landslide victory in the July 1 presidential election and began his six-year term by promising to carry out a strong fight against corruption, insisting that the issue has been Mexico’s worst nightmare. During his swearing-in, López Obrador also reaffirmed his intentions to not live in the presidential palace and to receive only 40% of his presidential salary.