[At the source url below you can watch the video of the insides of some of these planes. The Emir who has 1,000 people travelling with him seems like a bit of an idiot. Why would you do that? Or is he just a show-off? Jan]
Narrator: It’s no secret that the world’s top leaders travel in style. Just look at this $500 million flying fortress or the $1.5 billion fleet for the Qatar royal family.
But while these planes’ aesthetics may seem a bit much, the aircraft are actually built for utility.
Their job? To protect heads of states while they travel. While footage and photos are rare, here’s what we do know about the planes of the world’s most powerful.
Whenever US President Donald Trump travels, he flies on a retrofitted Boeing 747-200B.
There are actually two of them, but whichever one the president is on is called Air Force One. The blue and white double-decker planes have been in flight for 25 years.
Air Force One is armed against electromagnetic pulses and has secure communication lines. It even has a fully stocked medical suite that can act as an operation room. It has the capacity to hold 100 people onboard. The aircraft are estimated to be worth $1 billion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has the biggest fleet, with a total of 132 aircraft.
His primary transport? The Russian-made Ilyushin IL-96-300. On the outside, the plane is painted with a special coating that makes it less detectable to radar. It also has radar jammers and anti-aircraft defenses.
On the inside, there are tapestries, lots of gold, an office, bedroom, and full gym for the president. It’s valued at half a billion dollars.
Unlike the US and Russian presidents, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, doesn’t have a designated plane. He flies in one of two Boeing 747s operated by Air China. Each one costs about $250 million.
When they’re not flying Xi, the planes are used for normal commercial passenger flights, so inside they’re nothing elaborate. But when Xi does need to use one, the planes are swept beforehand for security purposes and fitted with a bedroom and an office.
For his overseas travels, South Korean President Moon Jae-in leases a Boeing 747-400 from Korean Air. The exact price of the lease with Korean Air is unknown, but a normal Boeing 747 runs around $240 million.
But since the 10-year lease is up in 2020, the president is reportedly on the hunt for an Air Force One of his own. For now, he’s got a white 747 with red and white accents on its body.
It’s retrofitted with flares to protect against missiles and has radar-jamming capabilities.
The emir of Qatar has the world’s most expensive fleet, coming in at $1.5 billion.
It includes two Boeing 747-8 BBJs. Whenever the emir travels, he uses more than one plane to carry all his cargo and entourage.
A thousand people accompany him on any given flight, and his cargo includes food and even limousines he’ll use upon his destination. Members of the royal family also use his fleet.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel flies on one of two Airbus A340-300 airliners, known as Konrad Adenauer and Theodor Heuss.
Before flying Merkel, the A340s were passenger aircrafts for the airline Lufthansa. They carry about 143 passengers and are tricked out with bedrooms, showers, offices, and a soundproof conference room. Each of the A340s costs an estimated $300 million.
The UK prime minister flies on an Airbus A330 that costs $250 million. It’s pretty much a passenger plane, but with added aerial refueling capabilities and a redesigned interior.
There’s a suite in the front of the plane with a curtain to block it off from the rest of the cabin. The plane also has 58 business-class seats and 100 economy seats for journalists. It holds the record among the planes of the world’s leaders for the ability to carry the most passengers.
If you’re wondering, the royal family boasts a $100 million fleet of their own with 10 airplanes and three helicopters.
President Hassan Rouhani travels overseas on an Airbus A340 that Air Canada and Turkish Airways once owned. Rouhani’s plane is the only one operated by Iranian airline Dena Airways.
Its price is unknown.
Turkey’s fleet has an impressive number of commercial planes converted into VIP transports, including Airbus A330-220s, Airbus A340-500s, and a Boeing 747-8 private jet.
The last one was a gift for Turkey’s president from the government of Qatar. Instead of the 400 seats that are normally onboard, this one got a major makeover. It now holds just 76 passengers in its first-class suites, lounges, and conference rooms. There’s even a hospital onboard.
The jet is worth whopping $500 million.
President Jair Bolsonaro uses an Airbus A319 for international trips and an Embraer VIP transport for short-haul flights. The Brazilian air force calls it VC-1A, but it’s officially named after famous aviator Santos-Dumont.
Up front, the plane has a presidential suite complete with a conference room, office, and bedroom.
While all these planes are tricked out a little differently, one thing’s the same: The world’s leaders like to travel in style.