Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mexican president, doesn’t travel on private jets. This has led to a whole new bunch of problems that the airlines and the passengers have to deal with. For instance, last week, a Mexican family voluntarily got off a plane on which the president was on board, due to security reasons. Let’s look into it.
Is it dangerous to have the president next to you?
I’ll start with a personal story. Last year, during the Feria Aeroespacial México (FAMEX) 2019, I covered the inauguration. López Obrador gave a speech during the event. After, he toured around the military airbase where FAMEX took place.
At some point, every member of the media, including me, circled around the president. Eventually, I was as close as you can be to him, basically, next to him, within my grasp. I took pictures and remained utterly silent. And no one stopped me or tried to separate me (or anyone else, for that matter) from López Obrador. He trusted everyone around him.
The same thing happens every time he gets on a commercial flight. He hops on the plane, with few security members and travels next to families, tourists, and businessmen, like anyone else. It is a statement, obviously, of the apparent austerity of his government and the belief he has in the Mexican people. Still, he might put everyone in danger by doing it.
What happened last week?
This takes us to last week: a family of four asked the flight attendant to get off the flight they had boarded when the saw the President onboard.
When one of the fellow passengers asked the father why, he said: “because it is unsafe”. If the president is on board, is it unsafe? The passenger replied, “For my family, it is”.
Is it really that unsafe? In 2018, before López Obrador took the presidency, academics said that, in order to keep safe the flights where he traveled, the presidential security would have to take command of the airplane. It would also have to make a thorough check of the passengers and crew. This is not what has happened.
What actually happens is that at the airport the president takes the same security filters as everyone else. Onboard, he sits next to the emergency exit. There, he has almost no security and talks with the people around him, while taking selfies. As reported by El Sol de México, a flight attendant said last year,
“It is horrible that he is on my flight. People don’t listen to us, are constantly up, even in cases of turbulence. The press doesn’t understand that their cameras can be projectiles in case of an incident. I hope my family never travels with him”.
This all happens while he’s trying to sell the famous presidential airplane, a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
What’s new with the presidential airplane raffle?
Last week, López Obrador showed the last piece of his strategy to get rid of the 787 private jet: a lottery ticket. As we all know, the Mexican government is considering raffling off the B787. The names of the possible buyers have gone from private investors all the way to Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister.
Presentamos el diseño del boleto de la rifa del #AviónPresidencial
En caso de que optemos por esta alternativa contaremos con el apoyo de empresarios y del pueblo de México para llevarla a cabo
El proceso será transparente y estaremos informando todos los detalles. pic.twitter.com/Bsafbe8Zuc
— Gobierno de México (@GobiernoMX) January 28, 2020
The lottery ticket gave place to a whole bunch of social media frenzy.
¡Habemus boleto del #AviónPresidencial!
Ya me vi… pic.twitter.com/ftOGMaP4uu
— Sopitas (@sopitas) January 28, 2020
Although it is unclear what will happen with the Mexican presidential jet, it seems López Obrador is trying very hard to get rid of the airplane, even if that means that some lucky citizen, or unlucky, will finish with the plane.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.