Government Jets Flock To Glasgow For The COP26 Summit

It is, of course, somewhat ironic that a conference on the deterioration of the environment is an occasion for additional air travel. However, hopefully, short-term emissions will be made up for through long-term agreements that can, if not turn the course of climate change around, then at least slow global warming enough to buy us and the planet some time. In either case, COP26 is proving a real treat for Scottish planespotters.

Government Jets Flock To Glasgow For The COP26 Summit
Planespotters at Edinburgh Airport had a chance to catch a glimpse of Air Force One earlier today. Photo: Getty Images

The Presidential Queen

One of the main attractions on the runway of Edinburgh Airport earlier today was undoubtedly the arrival of Air Force One. The heavily modified Boeing 747-200 aircraft carrying the President of the United States touched down on Scottish soil about 11:00 local time. President Biden was then transported with a 20-vehicle long motorcade the 40+ miles to Glasgow.

Meanwhile, aviation enthusiasts who braved the weather at Glasgow Airport to stalk the unusual birds said the star of the show over there was the Egyptian Government’s A340-200. The aircraft, featuring a special VIP configuration, is 27.6 years old and registered as SU-GGG.

Rare visits to Prestwick Airport

The second-busiest of the Glaswegian airports, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, has also seen its fair share of unusual tails today and yesterday. Late last night, the Azerbaijani governmental transport, an Airbus A319 operated by Azal Azerbaijan Airlines, touched down at 17:42 local time. The aircraft arrived after a series of flights over two days taking it from Baku to Harare to Cairo and then to Prestwick. 

Azerbaijan A319
An Airbus A319 belonging to Azal Azerbaijan Airlines touched down at Prestwick Airport early Sunday evening. Photo: Oyoyoy via Wikimedia Commons

Ukraine’s delegation arrived, fittingly enough, on an Antonov 148-100B. While perhaps not the most fuel-efficient of choices, when one has an airplane manufacturer of one’s own as a country, it is understandable that should be the representation aircraft. The airplane is close to 11 years old and is registered as UR-UKR.

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Widebody Boeings from far away

Meanwhile, unique visitors from far off also arrived at Glasgow. Biman Airlines’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner carrying the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina traveled over 5,000 miles before reaching its destination. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Glasgow on Sunday on the Boeing 777 with callsign INDIA1.

Government Jets Flock To Glasgow For The COP26 Summit
A Biman Bangladesh Airlines Boeing 787 could be seen on the runway of Glasgow Airport ahead of COP26, transporting the country’s Prime Minister. Photo: Getty Images

On Monday, flights from the Spanish, Hellenic, Italian, German, Swiss, and Danish Air Forces also touched at Glasgow Airport. Part of the delegation from Qatar arrived in a Gulfstream G650 by way of Inverness, whereas the main transport occurred with a VIP A340 operated by Qatar Amiri Flight. Luxaviation operated several other private jets, and the Russian delegation – sans Vladimir Putin – arrived on a Dassault Falcon 7X jet in Edinburgh on Sunday.

Which governmental aircraft would you rather have caught a glimpse of? Or is there any other jet you are keen to see up close? Leave a comment and tell us about it.