President López Obrador announced that the government will auction off 19 airplanes and nine helicopters belonging to seven government departments in an open call for bids that will close on January 31.
“Luxury airplanes that have nothing to do with the reality of poverty that exists in our country [are] a reflection, an expression of how there were two worlds: that of the people and that of the governing class, two distinct spheres,” he said in his morning conference on Tuesday.
“The government employees thought themselves kings; they were like a creole monarchy and they lived lives of luxuries and privileges. That’s why we’ve decided to sell these planes,” he said.
He said that only airplanes and helicopters that serve the public, such as air ambulances and military planes, will remain in government service, “but not [those] for transporting government employees, because they abused them, they used planes to go play golf.”
The head of the state development bank Banobras, Jorge Mendoza, said Tuesday that the 28 planes and helicopters are just the first set of government aircraft that will be auctioned off. He said that there will be 72 in total — 33 planes and 39 helicopters — belonging to eight government departments.
Among these is the presidential plane, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for which the government has been unable to find a buyer and is spending nearly as much on storing it as using it.
The 28 planes and helicopters up for bidding in January were used by departments such as the National Water Commission (Conagua), the state oil company Pemex and the Secretariat of Communication and Transportation (SCT).
“The process will be divided into two stages: the first begins today [and] concludes on January 31; the second stage begins on February 19, when interested parties will be invited on the part of authorities, and the final ruling will be announced on February 27,” Mendoza said on Tuesday.
He said the government is hoping to recuperate 2.5 billion pesos (US $133 million) through the sale of the aircraft and added that the United Nations will watch over the proceedings to ensure transparency and that they aren’t sold off at low prices.